Holidays make me a little sad. The reason for this is that we're not near our children. One son lives on the west coast, and the other lives in western North Carolina. Brothers and sisters are scattered throughout the country as well. So for most holidays, we are alone. I've tried to buffer that by inviting other "orphans" in our community to eat with us. But there aren't too many of them -- most neighbors travel to be with their children/grandchildren; others have their children/gradnchildren visiting them. This year, we anticipated sharing Christmas dinner with 7 others, but 5 of them canceled out for various reasons, leaving just 4 of us for Christmas. Four is better than 2. Two days before Christmas, our son in western North Carolina said he would come. His wife is from Hubert, and she had dinner with her family while he dined with us. Since they had to drive 4-1/2 hours one way and had to return home the same day, it didn't leave them much wiggle room. (They breed, raise and train dogs and had to get back for them.) We had a wonderful time with our friends and our son and I only got sad when our west coast son called because I wanted him to also be with us.
Guy decided he wanted to make my father's filling, which conjured up more memories for me. I grew up with this filling and am so glad that one day I sat with my father and wrote down the recipe ingredients. My father delighted in making this authentic German recipe, every Thanksgiving and every Christmas, year after year, and boasted that no one could duplicate it, because no one else had the patience to chop the vegetables fine enough. He would painstakenly peel whole mushrooms. And he chopped for hours till everything was almost a paste. As we threw the pre-washed, sliced mushrooms into the Cuisinart, followed by the other ingredients that needed chopping, I wondered what my father would think of this new way to make his filling. If he had been here to taste it, I know he would have given his approval. Shortcuts or not, it tasted just like Dad's. Everyone had seconds. To explain what it's like, I call it a sausage meatloaf. It slices like a meatloaf. It tastes divine. Thanks, Dad -- your recipe lives on.
Daddy's German Filling
INGREDIENTS: 3-4 Tbsp. butter, margarine or Smart Balance
1 medium-sized onion
1/2 green pepper
1/2 lb. mushrooms
3/4 of 1 stalk celery
Liver and Giblets of turkey or chicken
3/4 lb. plain pork sausage (My father used breakfast sausage)
1/2 cup -3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup - 3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste (Try 1 tsp. sea salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper)
DIRECTIONS: In food processor, chop mushrooms, onion and pepper -- each separately. (I used pulse so I could check the conditions of the veggies.) The mushrooms will chop fine enough, but the onion and pepper you may need to stop before they get too watery and then finish chopping them by hand until there are no large pieces left. In a large frying pan, slowly saute the veggies till transparent and beginning to brown in butter or margarine (I used Smart Balance). Transfer sauteed veggies to large mixing bowl. (If fry pan is large enough, you can let the veggies cool in it and then mix the filling in it.)
Chop the celery in the food processor, and finish by hand if needed, so that it is chopped very fine, almost like a paste. Transfer to mixing bowl. Chop the Giblets and Liver in the food processor. Transfer to the mixing bowl with the celery.
Add the pork sausage, eggs, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Mix with clean hands till well combined. Add enough milk to make a soft meatloaf. It should not be soupy, but it should not be firm either; it should be somewhat loose. Refrigerate overnight or bake immediately at 350F for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours (or till instant read thermometer inserted in center registers 165F).
(I baked mine in a round Pyrex dish, where I could see clearly how it was cooking. ) Serve with turkey or chicken. Serves 8-12 people, depending on appetites (Leftovers are great served cold alone or on a sandwich with turkey or chicken.)
NOTE: I do not recommend stuffing the bird with this mixture, since the stuffing, being in the center, takes longer to cook than the bird. You'll have to cook the stuffing to 165F and by that time the breast meat will be quite dry.