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Mushroom and Apple Dressing

This is my favorite dressing for Thanksgiving. Take dressing mix from the store, fancy it up with some mushrooms and some fruit, and voilĂ -- it's a classic holiday side dish.

I use Mrs. Cubbison's seasoned dressing. My preference is to use fresh exotic mushrooms like chanterelles, lobster mushrooms, or chicken-of-the-woods, but these aren't always available. In that case, I make do with a combination of exotic dried mushrooms and fresh button mushrooms. This recipe is easily adaptable: try raisins, prunes, or dates in place of the apricots, and add walnuts or almonds if you desire.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Yield: about 10 to 12 servings

2 bags (6 oz. each) seasoned dressing mix
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 ribs celery, finely sliced
1 pound fresh exotic mushrooms, such as chanterelle, porcini, or lobster (if not available, substitute 1 pound white button mushrooms and 1/2 to 3/4 oz. dried lobster, morel, or porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water according to package directions)
1 large apple (Jonagold, Macintosh, Gala, etc.)
1/2 cup finely diced dried apricots
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp dried sage leaves
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chicken stock

Pour the dressing mix into a large bowl.

Melt one stick of the butter in a large skillet. Add the onions and celery and cook over medium-low heat until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, brush the mushrooms clean and chop into 1/2-inch dice (or slice the white button mushrooms and finely chop the drained reconstituted dried mushrooms). Add the mushrooms to the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high, and cook until the mushrooms have given off their liquid and it is starting to evaporate, about 10 minutes.

Dice the apple into 1/4-inch dice. Add the apple, apricots, poultry seasoning, sage, and pepper to the dressing mix. Melt the remaining stick of butter; add it to the dressing mix. Transfer the vegetables in the skillet to the dressing mixture and stir to combine well. Pour in the chicken stock. Stir well, then spoon the dressing into a buttered baking dish, about 3 1/2- to 4-quart capacity. (If you don't have a big enough baking dish, it may be necessary to put the dressing into 2 smaller dishes.)

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, removing cover for last 15 minutes of baking time if you want a crisp top.



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