Nana’s Sicilian Rice Dressing

Nana’s Sicilian Rice Dressing

Our grandmother’s “stuffing” for Thanksgiving turkey is probably one of our most precious family heirlooms, so I’m sure you understand how much it means to share it with you.

We grew up with this recipe. When she was healthy and well enough, my dad’s mother, our Nana, made this for our family Thanksgiving. She taught my mom, who made it for most of her life, always a day in advance. My sisters Suzy and Lisa learned to make it over the years, as did Suzy’s son and daughter. 

In my own experience, I have made it for clients for their holidays and catering events. The first time I made it for a client, we could not stop “tasting” it before I gently and firmly put a lid on it, and stored it safely for their meal the next day. 

At my Spanish Bar, I served it with a fried egg on top and everyone was crazy for this. I even sent guests home with it so they could have it for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. I usually make some for myself each November and, don’t share it at all.

With our mom having just passed, I feel particularly blessed that we’ll always be comforted with this plate. It was one of our dad’s only real connections to his own mother once she passed. He was fine to never mind anything else on the Thanksgiving table, it was his favorite thing about the holiday at all.

I hope you will try making this for your own holiday table, now that you know how much love is in this tradition. 

Once again, I’m going to describe these steps as best I can, as we only cook this from experience, not from a recipe! It is recommended you prepare this at least one day in advance.

2 lbs. white long-grain rice
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. bulk (breakfast-style pork) sausage 
Celery stalks from one entire bunch, chopped finely
1 large onion, chopped finely
Salt, pepper, poultry seasoning – to taste (we like lots of poultry seasoning)
Olive or vegetable oil for frying

In large stockpot filled 2/3 full with water, boil water over high flame. When water is rapidly boiling, add rice and lower flame. Stir rice occasionally and only cook until par-boiled (only slightly cooked). Drain rice in large colander and let cool slightly.

In large bowl, mix well (with clean or gloved hands, or large spoon) the cooled rice, raw meats, celery, and onion.

In large – ideally nonstick – skillet over medium-high flame, heat up to ¼ cup oil to fry “first batch” of rice, celery, onion, beef, and sausage. When meats are browned, season to taste with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning, and transfer to large baking dish.

Repeat this process until all ingredients are cooked, seasoning to taste.

From here you may cover baking dish tightly and bake at 350F for 40 minutes. For your meal, simply reheat to serve this as a side dish only.

If you would like to stuff your turkey with the dressing, you may simply refrigerate the mixture until your turkey is ready to roast. Our mom placed half the mixture in a cheesecloth bag and placed it in the turkey, so she could remove it easily. She baked the other half as a casserole before dinner was served (350F for 40 minutes) so that guests could choose to enjoy the dish with the turkey essence, or not.

You may also opt to bake and serve part of the dressing to share at your meal, and bake the rest later for other meals. Finally, this recipe may be halved or multiplied very easily with excellent results. It just depends how much you’d like to make. We’ve always thought more is better .

Yield is about 16 servings.

Diana Scalia

Diana Scalia

Your Chef and Tour Maestra

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