memere’s pork stuffing
This pork stuffing is probably not one you’ve seen before. It’s traditionally a “Canadian” thing and considering my dad’s side of the family comes from Canada, it’s not really that much of a surprise. My Memere (or grandmother) was a wonderful cook – she saved and wrote down a lot of her recipes and she even journaled just about every day of her life. My dad says that this is great Memere’s recipe – so it’s an old one!
My great Memere immigrated here from Canada and moved into a French Canadian neighborhood in Massachusetts – so she never learned how to speak English. My grandparents both spoke French and my dad knows enough to get by – but me? I took a semester of French in college and almost didn’t pass the class because I got the final exam date mixed up – luckily my teacher took pity on me and allowed me to take the test in her office and I managed to pass it – and then promptly forget everything I learned.
Luckily you don’t need to know French to make this recipe! This recipe is sort of similar to cretons, a cooked pork spread, but we add in mashed potatoes to it and then stuff it inside of a turkey.
First, start off by boiling a lot of potatoes. I used almost a whole 5 lb. bag of potatoes. Seriously.
Also: since that’s a lot of potatoes, I didn’t peel them. This elicited a response from my father, “You didn’t peel the potatoes?!” Sorry, no, I did not. I was being lazy.
Luckily my laziness won out because I remembered to use our potato ricer this year, which happily removed most of the peel for me.
Thank you, ricer, for helping me to be lazy.
Take your freshly riced (or mashed) potatoes and make really basic mashed potatoes with just milk. You want a creamy, but still held together, mashed potato. Reserved about 2-3 cups of mashed potatoes and then use the rest to seasoning to your liking. Since we usually only make this for Thanksgiving, we just kill two side dishes with one stone, hence the crazy amount of cooked potatoes.
Proceed by slicing 4 small onions (I like to use the sweet ones) and chop up about a head of garlic.
Mind you, I did use some of the garlic for other dishes… but a little extra garlic never hurt anyone, right? You can cut back on this a little if you’re afraid, but don’t be. It’s just garlic, my darling.
Fill a big old pan with all of your onions and cook those suckers down until they’re good and caramelized.
Like this! You’ll want to add in the garlic in about the last 1-2 minutes of cooking so you don’t burn the garlic over the long cooking time for the onions. Remove this from the pan and reserve.
Add your plain old ground pork (not a sausage variety of any kind – no Italian, hot, or breakfast sausage here – just ground pork!) to the pan and cook down until it renders its fat.
My dad uses a potato masher (ironic that I didn’t use it for potatoes this year? I think so) to get the pork finely cut up.
Then, when you see the fat start rendering… you just cook it some more. Don’t drain the fat! Continue to cook it until the fat is cooked back into the pork. You can remove a little bit of it if you really feel you must… but then you’ll be removing porky flavor! So please try to resist.
Crush up some saltines (or, in our case, Keebler Club crackers since no one remembered to buy saltines…) and then add this to your pork. The saltines will soak up some of that fat and add saltiness and flavor to the dish.
At this point we add the magic secret ingredient – Bell’s Seasoning. Bell’s Seasoning is a poultry seasoning from New England containing rosemary, oregano, sage, ginger, and marjoram. It’s a salt free, all natural blend – and something you can’t get here in Southern California. We usually have our relatives send us a bunch and stick the boxes in the freezer – but you can order it on Amazon, or just use your favorite poultry seasoning.
We use half of a 1 oz. box of Bell’s Seasoning for the stuffing.
After the spices are mixed in, add in the caramelized onion/garlic mixture.
And again… mix well.
Then add in your reserved plain mashed potatoes. I didn’t actually measure this out – but I believe this is about 1 1/2 – 2 cups of mashed potatoes put in. You don’t want to put in too much potato since it’ll take away from the flavor – so it’s always better to just add in a little bit, mix, and see how the proportions look.
Mix, toss, turn and get that potato in there!
And this is about what it looks like mixed in – you can clearly see the pork and the potato combines the pork together nicely. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Use this stuffing in place of a traditional stuffing mix. The pork stuffing adds a wonderful aroma and flavor to your bird.
Add the leftover stuffing to a cast iron pot and bake in the oven for 30 minutes along with any other side dishes. Once it gets crusty and golden, you’re good to go.
This stuffing is truly one of my absolute favorite things to eat and I look forward to it every year. Some years I also make cornbread stuffing on the side, but I can’t live without this dish on the Thanksgiving table.
I’m sorry it’s taken me so many years to finally document my Memere’s pork stuffing and hope that you can try it out this Christmas or just as a new side dish for your dinner table. Get the recipe below!
Memere’s Pork Stuffing
(with some twists and additions from Dad)
about 4 lbs of potatoes, sliced (use less if you don’t want to make extra mashed potatoes)
4 small sweet onions, sliced
8-10 cloves of garlic, minced
2 lbs. ground pork
1/2 box of Bell’s Seasoning or .5 oz of your favorite poultry seasoning
1/2 sleeve of crushed saltines
salt & pepper
1) Boil potatoes until fork tender. Rice or mash until smooth – use only milk to make mashed potatoes. Reserve 2-3 cups. Use the rest to make your usual mashed potatoes.
2) Brown onions until caramelized and golden. Add garlic during the last 1-2 minutes of cooking, until fragrant. Remove onions/garlic and reserve.
3) Cook ground pork. Use a potato masher to grind up all of the pork pieces. When fat starts to render, continue cooking until about half of the fat has cooked back into the meat; do not drain.
4) Add about 1/2 – 1 cup of crushed saltines. Add until the fat from the pork is absorbed into the mixture. Add Bell’s Seasonings and stir.
5) Add in caramelized onions and garlic mixture and stir. Add in about 2 cups of mashed potatoes and mix. If needed, add more potatoes until the mixture looked balanced and well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6) Use stuffing inside of a turkey and cook according to package directions. Place leftover stuffing in a cast iron skillet and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, until golden and crusty around the edges.