Friday, December 30, 2016

Al's Wild Rice Stuffing

When I was growing up, there was only one stuffing for a turkey: Pepperidge Farm’s. Don’t get me wrong—I liked it then, and I still like it. But sometimes you want to change things up a bit, yanno? I made a few stabs at that years ago, when I volunteered to cook the turkey on quick trips home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but everybody made polite noises and then we went back to the Old Faithful bag of crumbs.

But I never give up. This year the stars aligned in a peculiar way. I know we’re trying to forget the recent political mess, but I started contributing online to Al Franken (U.S. Senator from Minnesota), mainly because he asked so nicely. He wasn’t even running himself, but he was raising money for a variety of other candidates. His emails were short, funny, and to the point, and I thought the emails alone deserved my support (so did the candidates, but that’s something else entirely).

After the election, he sent out a thank-you email—and he included recipes. No ask, no begging, just simple tasty recipes. So I decided to try one, in his honor. I did a little tweaking of the ingredients, based on what I had on hand, and I have no clue where to find the brand of rice he originally mentioned, but I did track down some wild rice locally. (Please don’t buy the “mixes” in a box, which in addition to the two kinds of rice contains a lot of artificial gunk.)

Al’s Wild Rice Stuffing


1 lb. wild rice (actually I cheated and used half a pound of wild rice and half a pound of white—wild rice is expensive!)

one stick butter
ten cloves of garlic
3 medium sized yellow onions
2 lbs. mushrooms (I swapped in some shitakes, and a package of dried porcini mushrooms I’d had for a long time)
salt to taste


In a colander, rinse the wild rice. Put the rice in a pot, and add 3 inches of water. Boil gently in a pot, uncovered, for about 20 to 25 minutes. 

Weigh a half-pound of white rice (which comes out to about one cup) and make it as you normally would (I do mine in the microwave). Stir when done to fluff it up.

While the rice is cooking, slice (do not mince) the mushrooms, onions, and garlic. (If you’re using dried mushrooms, soak them according to the package instructions, then drain—save the liquid, which is tasty and could go into your gravy!).

Melt the butter in a skillet, and sauté the onions and garlic until they begin to bleed a little liquid (Al’s description, not mine!) into the butter. Then add the mushrooms. The onions should not be totally soft.

Once the wild rice has cooked, drain it and add along with the white rice to the sautéed vegetables (you’ll need a big bowl!), and mix.

Add salt to taste, and stuff into the turkey before roasting (I'll spare you the picture of the naked turkey). The rest can be eaten as a side dish at dinner or saved to go with the leftovers.

How much does this make? Well, I cooked a 12-pound turkey, which is not very large, and used less than half of the stuffing. At the very least you could fill a bigger turkey!

Next book up: Cruel Winter, coming in March from Crooked Lane Books. I'd better use the snowy cover as much as I can before the daffodils bloom in Ireland!

You can preorder it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.



  1. Delicious!
    I love wild rice, which is actually not a rice, but a grass. It has such flavor and it is so American.
    If you can find it and afford it, try to get brands that are connected to Native Americans.

  2. Good advice, Libby! Another thing to keep in mind: some folks don't cook it long enough -- the grains should pop open, unlike white and brown rice grains, which stay intact. We love mixing brown and wild rice -- the cooking times are similar, although you can start the wild rice a few minutes ahead of the brown for optimal "popping" and minimal mushing!