Friday, November 7, 2014

An Ordinary Woman - Seafood Stuffing Casserole

Today's inspirational ear worm comes from that grumpy old misogynist, Henry Higgins, who is, as he tells his friend Pickering, just an ordinary man.  Yeah, right.  With that house, and live-in staff constantly dusting the furniture, and the money to pursue his esoteric specialty?  I wouldn't mind being that ordinary, not at all.

I am, I suppose, an ordinary woman, although I have none of Professor Higgins' worldly goods.  I cook, I knit, I raise cats and dogs, I enjoy my family and friends.  A full pantry makes me smile.  So does a well-stocked freezer, and some of that Thanksgiving stuffing bread I baked last week.

I like my job.  The pay is lousy, but the emotional rewards are indescribable.  The benefits are pretty good, but the emotional toll can be beyond heart-wrenching.  It's a mixed bag.  After a couple of stressful days, I really need some sort of release that does not necessarily result in a naive young woman belting out "the rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain."  I could knit a tea cozy, or I could start to drink heavily or I could chop an onion and see where it takes me.  So I grabbed a very sharp knife ...

Seafood Stuffing Casserole

1 onion, chopped (or half of a Vidalia)
1 small celery stalk, chopped
1/2 carrot, chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 oz. mild pan sausage
2 cups crumbled Thanksgiving stuffing bread, divided (see November 4 recipes)
1 flat can chopped clams, undrained
Mixed raw seafood (I used about 6 frozen shrimp and 8 frozen Patagonian scallops)
1/2 cup frozen mixed vegetables (corn, peas, cut green beans)
2 tablespoons chopped pimentos, drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 tablespoons white wine

shredded Swiss cheese
French's French fried onions

In a stove-top-to-oven pan, heat the oil and butter over medium heat, and add the onion, celery and onion.  After a few minutes add the garlic.  Lower the heat and sauté the vegetables for a good while so they slowly caramelize. Do not season the vegetables at this point.  Add the sausage and break up with a wooden spoon as it browns.  Stir in some rubbed sage, black pepper, pinch of kosher salt, and remove the pan from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spread out 1-1/2 cups of the bread on a small ovenproof pan and place into the oven to dry it out.   Add the bread to the pan along with the undrained clams and stir to combine well.  Place the seafood and vegetables in a colander and run some cold water over for about 2 minutes, then let drain well.  Add the seafood and vegetables to the pan along with the pimentos.  Finally, stir in the mushroom soup and wine.  Taste and add whatever seasoning is needed.  I used a pinch of sage and of thyme, and a sprinkle of granulated garlic.

Combine the remaining crumbled bread with an equal amount of Swiss cheese, and sprinkle across the top of the casserole.  Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven.  Sprinkle some French fried onions across the top, return to the oven and bake another 10-15 minutes, until the casserole bubbles and the onions darken slightly.

This is a very nice side dish.  With a bit more seafood and mixed vegetables, it could work as a main dish entree.

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