Guest Post: Chestnut and Bulgur Stuffing, a.k.a. Holiday Time with the Man Who Discovered Food Has Calories

Miriam Isserow is a fundraising consultant based in Silver Spring, Maryland. In her misspent youth, she loved to make dessert. Now she likes to cook delicious and healthful meals.

This time of year, we seem to go from one food-centric event to another. This is a particular challenge for my dear husband, otherwise known as The Man Who Discovered Food Has Calories. I know my new nickname for him is a mouthful, so from here on in, I'll call him TMWDFHC.

I recently mentioned to TMWDFHC that for our own holiday meal, I would make a bulgur stuffing instead of our traditional bread stuffing. Years ago, my cousin whipped up a similar dish that I still remember—and given the dieting and monitoring of cholesterol we’ve been doing at my house, I thought it would be a great alternative to soaking bread with eggs.

But when I told TMWDFHC I would be doing a bulgur stuffing, he flipped out.

“How can you make stuffing without chestnuts?”

You see, one core principle in our house is that stuffing has chestnuts. I assured TMWDFHC that the bulgur stuffing would have chestnuts, too.

So, I found some bulgur stuffing recipes, added chestnuts and played around a little. This was the result. You can make it in the turkey, or, if you're expecting vegetarians or happen to live with someone who discovered that food has calories, you can bake it in a pan. An additional healthful plus: You don’t have to grease the pan as you would with classic stuffing.

Chestnut & Bulgur Stuffing
Serves 12

2 ½ c water,
2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms (around 2 cups)
1 oz. dried morel mushrooms (around 1 cup)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 chopped medium sized onion
5 ½ c. broth
2 ½ c. bulgur (it’s good if it’s coarse but it really doesn’t matter)
1 c. flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 cup shelled chestnuts (use a freeze dried package that you can buy at an Asian market for next to nothing).

1) Bring water to a boil. Pour over mushrooms and soak for half an hour.

2) In a 4 quart sauce pan or chefs pan, sauté onion in olive oil until softened. Add broth and bring to a boil. Stir in bulgur and cook around 8 minutes more, uncovered.

3) Remove mushrooms from water, squeezing if necessary. Reserve soaking liquid, strain, and set aside. Rinse mushrooms and coarsely chop.

4) In a large bowl, toss together bulgur, ½ cup of the reserved liquid, mushrooms, chestnuts, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Let cool completely.

5) Now you can either stuff it in a turkey or bake it. If you are baking it in a pan, no need to grease the pan—and bake it at 325 for 40 minutes, covered.

NOTE: Our custom is to use some as stuffing and some in a pan for the vegetarians (using vegetable broth in that case). After all, even those who have discovered that food has calories and who are trying to be really good through the holidays are entitled to the divine taste of chestnut stuffing with turkey drippings.