Product Of The Month
Every month we spotlight a bread or product that we sell in our cafés. We hope you enjoy learning a little about them. Stop by any of our locations to sample these treats and take something home to share.
Holiday Porcini Stuffing Mix
I love holiday meals, the gathering of friends and family, an occasion to pull out all the stops and feast. Amongst many favorites, Thanksgiving tops them all. Part of it is the seasonal offerings: wild mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, kale, a myriad of hard-skinned squash, apples, pears, and cranberries. The late fall weather, brisk and wet, with its early evenings, makes the thought of cooking for hours in a bright, warm kitchen all the more inviting. And then there is sentiment. My mother made elaborate, delicious Thanksgiving dinners, including her standout apple pie.
When I graduated from culinary school at age 22, she passed the tongs to me. She still made the apple pie and helped with the gravy, but the rest was mine to manage. Managing a feast like Thanksgiving, with all of its elegant sides, takes a lot of coordinating. The list is long, starting with finding the right turkey and brining it, shopping for the best vegetables, mushrooms, nuts, fresh herbs, cranberries, and drying bread for stuffing. Even now, after years of doing it, I still need to sit down and write out a plan.
During Macrina’s fourth year in business, a Thanksgiving dinner guest at my house raved about my stuffing. You should be selling this, he said. Inspired, I began cutting the crust off my day-old bread as the next season neared and froze the naked loaves. A couple weeks before Thanksgiving my crew and I went into production, cubing the bread, tossing it with squares of butter, olive oil, garlic, and fresh herbs before baking it. We packaged the seasoned bread with dried porcini mushrooms and cranberries to add richness and a bit of sweetness. Voilà. Our first stuffing mix. Customers loved the flavor, and also the time it saved them in their busy holiday cooking schedule.
Nineteen years later, rather than using the leftover loaves, Macrina now bakes bread just for our stuffing mix —over 800 loaves per week. During the busy holiday season, we bring in a special prep team just to handle the demand. Thanksgiving is the big draw, but cozy fall dinner parties and Christmas keep interest high throughout the season.
Each bag of Macrina stuffing comes with a recipe attached. You start by buttering a glass baking dish and adding the stuffing mix. Next I recommend adding sautéed onions and celery. The final step is to pour warm stock and melted butter over the stuffing and bake for 45-60 minutes. The croutons suck up the liquid like little sponges, becoming tender and moist while retaining some texture. Each Thanksgiving I use one of my stuffing mixes. It has the same savory goodness that inspired my friend to suggest I package it, and it saves me lots of time. With so many other dishes to shop for and prep, that is a welcome relief.
Enjoy our featured recipe for roasted chicken with our Holiday Porcini Stuffing Mix.