Wild Rice Dressing for roast poultry with prosciutto, peas, shiitakes and hazelnuts

By Charleen - December 30, 2019

Wild rice stuffing or dressing is one of my favorite sides to complement roasted poultry, whether it's the Thanksgiving turkey or a Christmas goose. This version with its mix of nutty brown rice, black slivers of wild rice, crispy prosciutto cubes, dry and fresh mushrooms, green peas and roasted hazelnuts really delivers on the rich drippings flavor with satisfying contrasts in color, texture and flavor.

The dressing that I love to serve with roasted poultry is basically a fried rice, using a blend of wild rice and brown rice, with hot turkey drippings stirred in. My mother used diced Virginia country ham -- the real dry-smoked kind that could be safely stored at room temperature -- to add a rich, smoky flavor to her rice stuffing. I have found that small cubes of prosciutto works well and is easier to handle. These are the same prosciutto cubes I use in Silken Tofu and Spinach soup. Thin slices of rehydrated dried Chinese winter mushrooms 冬菇 (Dōnggū, also known as black mushrooms or dried shiitakes), green peas and the triad of garlic, ginger and scallions round out the flavors. 
This year, I added some sliced fresh mushrooms and toasted hazelnuts which elevated the dressing to another level. Several people told me the wild rice dressing was their favorite Thanksgiving dish this year!

Instant Pot Rice

The Instant Pot has revolutionized rice for me. While the traditional Chinese method of using your finger joint to measure how much water should cover the rice mysteriously works despite different sized fingers, the limiting factor for me was that whole grain rice took much too long to cook. The point of a stir-fry was getting food on the table in about 30 minutes. With the Instant Pot, I could set it up for 15 min at high pressure just before starting to cook and forget about it. The rice would be in "Keep Warm" mode by the time I was done prepping the mise en place and stir-fying the dish.

An added bonus is that the perfect texture of Instant Pot rice, soft but still with distinct grains, is cooked using a 1:1 ratio of rice to water, which is very easy to remember. Rinse 1-3 cups of brown rice, drain and place in Instant Pot with same volume of fresh water. Cook at high pressure x 15 min with "Keep Warm" setting on. Natural release for at least 20 min. Fluff and serve.
To make dressing for the Thanksgiving crowd, I used a one pound package of Lundberg wild rice blend (2 cups), although brown jasmine rice also works well. After Natural Release, the rice was allowed to cool and then refrigerated, as fried rice works best with leftover rice.

Wild Rice Dressing for Roast Poultry                         

by Love2Chow, December 30, 2019

2 cups of whole grain rice (mixture of brown rice and wild rice), or about 6 cups cooked
6-8 dried Chinese black or winter (shiitake) mushrooms
6 dried wood ear fungus (optional, adds a slightly crunchy texture)
1 4-oz package of chopped proscuitto bits, or 4-6 oz of ham
3-4 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 inch segment ginger, minced
3-4 oz fresh mushrooms (shiitake or cremini or button), thinly sliced
8 oz (w) of frozen green peas
1-2 Tbs rice wine
3-4 Tbs drippings (including both fat and juices)
1 Tbs sesame oil
2-3 scallions, finely sliced
1/2 cup hazelnuts

1. Cook rice in advance and refrigerate. Allow rice to rest at room temperature for 30-60 min.
2. Meanwhile, soak the dried mushrooms and wood ears in a bowl of room temperature water until softened. Remove the stems from the dried shiitakes. Slice thinly. If necessary, return any slices that are not fully rehydrated to the soaking water until softened all the way through.
3. Heat ~1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet or wok on medium heat. Cook proscuitto until some bits are crispy. Add garlic and ginger until sizzling.
4. Stir in fresh mushrooms. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes.
5. Push ingredients to sides of pan and add ~2 tablespoons of oil to middle.  Add rice to center of pan and stir to break it up. Add rice wine and mix with other ingredients in the pan. Add frozen peas (if using) and cook for 5 minutes or until hot. Set aside if turkey has not yet released its juices.
6. Stir in drippings and reheat, if necessary.
7. Stir in sesame oil, scallions and hazelnuts and season with salt and pepper, if necessary, before serving.

For the recipe for Roast Turkey with Szechuan Peppercorns, click here.


The recipe is very flexible, and for our Christmas goose, I made substitutions based on materials I had on hand, using leftover Honey Baked ham, and adding dried cranberries for a bit of sweetness. 
Instead of proscuitto, I used 4 oz of Honey Baked ham, which I had pulled off the frozen ham bone from Thanksgiving before using the bone to make a satisfying and easy split pea soup. Since I had a bunch of green beans around for another side dish, I substituted a large handful of green beans for the peas, cutting the beans into pea-sized segments and adding them before the fresh mushrooms. This version of the dressing was garnished with roasted pecans and dried cranberries instead of the hazelnuts, as I thought the extra sweetness would better complement the darker goose meat. 

🐾 A dressing is basically a stuffing that is served alongside, rather than inside, the turkey. For food safety reasons, I do not roast poultry with the stuffing inside. Instead, I  prepare the stuffing on the stove. Before separating juices and fat for the gravy (recipe in this link), I take out several large spoonfuls of drippings to stir into the rice dressing. If necessary, the dressing can then be warmed in the oven to along with other casseroles.

🐾 This year, I finally optimized a method for roasting whole birds so that the breast and thigh is done at about the same time. Described in detail in my pre-Thanksgiving post, this method has worked well on a 13 pound turkey, a 22 pound turkey (see temperature graph) and an 8 pound goose.

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