Join food writer, cookbook author, and "Kitchen Scientist" columnist for Food52 Nik Sharma as he makes the Green Olive & Choriço Stuffing recipe from his newest cookbook, The Flavor Equation.
On Play Me a Recipe, your favorite cooks will walk you through their most treasured recipes, offering all the insider tips, stories, and tricks you won't get from a written recipe—and you'll be right alongside them, every step of the way. Feel free to pause, jump back, or navigate the steps via the podcast chapters.
If you're cooking along, here's the recipe we're making today. Go ahead and grab the ingredients below (Nik starts listing them at 1:09) before starting the episode.
Green Olive & Choriço Stuffing
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Lobby Time Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Nik Sharma (teaser): Mm, that saffron smells incredible.
Nik: Hi, this is Play Me A Recipe. I'm Nik Sharma, food writer, cookbook author and Kitchen Scientist columnist for Food52.
Today I'll be making my Green Olive & Choriço Stuffing from my latest cookbook, The Flavor Equation. The recipes linked in the show notes if you need to refer to it, but otherwise we'll be gathering ingredients, slicing, dicing on baking everything alongside each other. Feel free to pause or jump back if you need a second.
The holidays are when this stuffing recipe makes an appearance at my table. In many ways, the bread and I are similar. We're both constantly learning from our environment and absorbing the different things we experience. Green olives are my ode to my home state of California, while the choriço, saffron and vinegar speak for the India I grew up in.
Nik: For this recipe, you'll need a ciabatta or sourdough loaf, a stick of unsalted butter, some saffron and sea salt, about a three-quarter pound of choriço, a large leek, *medium yellow onion, four garlic cloves, two large tart baking apples—I've got Granny Smith apples with me today. You'll also need a quarter pound of dried cherries. A handful of walnut halves, a quarter cup of apple cider or malt vinegar, a can of buttery green olives, three cups of low-sodium chicken stock, two large eggs, and of course, some chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish.
You'll also need a baking sheet, parchment paper, foil, a large baking dish—either glass or ceramic is fine—and a medium saucepan.
Nik: So first we'll start by drying out the bread. I'm preheating my oven to 200°F and while the oven heats up, let's go ahead and tear this bread into cubes. I like a combination of tart, sweet, and spicy flavors, and this stuffing is centered around those ideas. Mingled in is an assortment of delicious textures from smooth to crunchy. Now you really don't need to dry your bread If you have stale bread at home; the whole point of heating the oven up to 200°F, which is actually quite low, is it dehydrates the bread, and so this helps the bread to absorb more liquid as it cooks with the stuffing in the final step.
Alright, I'm going to slide my bread into the oven. We'll let that go on for about one hour. You don't want the bread to turn any sort of brown color. The goal here is just to dry it up. It should feel hard to touch, like it'll crumble if you press on a cube.
Nik: Okay, the cubes are looking great. They're dry, hard, and ready to absorb our saucy mixture. Let's set these aside to cool for about an hour. This is important because if the cubes are too warm or too hot, the egg mixture will start to set and thicken before it actually enters the oven. So we want to minimize that, and we're gonna let this cool. While the bread cools, we've got some veggies to prep.
We've got the leeks, the yellow onions, and the four garlic cloves that need to be thinly sliced. And this adds a really nice texture, but it also adds a savory note and helps to build up the warmth in the flavor of the dish. We also have the two Granny Smith apples that I'm going to core and dice. I like to dice them because when you bite into it, you get the juicy burst of sweet and tart flavors. We've also got olives to take care of, and the olives are to be drained. I love green olives, but if you have an olive that you really love, by all means, go ahead and add it.
Stuffing is one of those satisfying dishes that you can tweak for every year. I love the flexibility that it affords. For example, here I am using two ingredients that I grew up within Goan cuisine; choriço and vinegar. Those two ingredients are what makes this stuffing so special for me.
Nik: So let's go ahead and bump the oven's temperature to 350°F and then prepare our pan.
I'm buttering a glass 9-by-13-by-2-inch dish, but honestly, any kind of baking dish or roasting pan will work here. You could use glass. You could use ceramic. You could use even cast-iron. This [the butter] will help the stuffing not only come out easily from the baking dish, but also it helps with crisping on the sides of the pan.
So I know it sounds kind of tedious to ask you to use 20 strands of saffron. But there's a reason for this. I honestly have no idea what a pinch of saffron means. You know, it could be 10. It could be 15. It could be 20. It could be 25 strands of saffron. So to avoid all the confusion, I usually like to give a number in my recipes for the amount of saffron to use. And so in this case, it's 20 strands of saffron. You don't need to be exact, but just stay around that mark. Another thing that you'll notice that's really different here is that I grind my saffron with a little bit of salt. This is because salt acts like an abrasive and will help break the strands of saffron into a fine powder, which means you will get a really beautiful orange yellow color because there's better extraction. Since the saffron is broken down on, you also get a stronger floral aroma. Now, if you're doing desserts, use sugar instead of salt and you'll get the same result.
Mm, that saffron smells incredible!
Nik: Let's get working on the aromatics. I'm setting up a medium saucepan on low heat. And I'm going to add about 11 ounces of Portuguese choriço to the dry pan. I like Portuguese choriço because I can't get Goan choriço out here, and the flavors are very similar, which is why I find it to be a very good substitute.
Nik: Now we're gonna let this cook over low heat until it just about starts to brown—for about eight minutes or so. I'll meet you back here after the break.
Nik: And we’re back. I'm Nik Sharma, food writer, cookbook author and the Kitchen Scientist columnist at Food52. And we've been making my Green Olive & Choriço Stuffing recipe from my latest cookbook, The Flavor Equation. You can also find this recipe linked in the show's notes, but as a reminder, I'll be cooking right alongside you. Feel free to pause or jump back if you need a little more time.
Nik: Now that sausage is looking really nice and brown, and I can almost smell the spices in the sausage come out. The next thing that I'm gonna add is a whole stick of butter. Now I will add the sliced leeks and onions from earlier. We're gonna cook these until they start to turn translucent. I'm not really looking for them to turn brown or caramelized. We'll get to that a little bit later in the oven. But for now, we're just gonna cook this for about four minutes till they turn translucent.
Now, lastly, I'm gonna add the garlic that I sliced earlier. Now, you add garlic at the end because garlic has a tendency to burn very quickly. Because we've got all these other ingredients in here, they keep the temperature of the pan cool, so you can still have the garlic cook with heat, but the heat is just not enough for it to get burnt.
And now I'm going to stir in the saffron that I had ground earlier. You can smell the aroma of the saffron, and the spices from the choriço, and the aromatics all come together.
Nik: So let's add in the diced apples, the three ounces of cherries and a half cup of walnuts. I'm still cooking this over low heat, just enough to coat the new additions in all of that allium goodness. So one of the things that you should look out for with the cherries is that you want these dried, tart cherries to turn plump. That's a good sign of when to remove this pan off the stove.
Nik: Now that my cherries are looking plump. I am going to remove my saucepan from the stove, and the next thing that I'm going to do is fold in the olives, as well as the bread that I had dried out earlier on. And I'm also going to season this now. Control how much salt you add at this stage because choriço also has a certain amount of salt. So try to account for that when you're seasoning the base of the stuffing.
Nik: In a medium bowl, let's whisk together one cup of the stock with the two large eggs. Then the rest of the stock will go into this. Let's now pour this right over our bread mixture and fold it all gently so everything gets evenly wetted. I'm now going to leave this for about 30 minutes on my kitchen counter to absorb, but if you need a longer break, you’re totally free to stick this covered into the refrigerator overnight.
Nik: Okay, so we're ready to bake! I'm going to cover my baking dish with foil, which helps to seal the moisture in as it cooks, so the eggs set much nicer as they steam. Let’s slide this into the oven and then let it cook for about 40 minutes until the liquid inside starts to steam and bubble a little bit. I'm gonna go check on my two cats because they've been quiet for too long, and I really don't trust them...and I'm also going to try and not think about the stuffing. I'll see you guys in a little bit!
Nik: So, the stuffing’s been baking for about 40 minutes. Now let's go check on it. It's still a little bit moist, so let's peel the foil off. Lower the temperature of the oven to 300°F, then cook it
uncovered until it turns golden brown and crispy all over. I'll see you guys in about 20 minutes.
Nik: Okay, let's grab a skewer; if all you have is a knife to test for doneness, that’s fine. The stuffing should be pretty dry. The skewer will come out clean. Yep, this looks pretty good. Let's pull this out and let it cool for about 10 minutes or so. After it cools off, I'm going to garnish this with the chopped flat-leaf parsley and the chopped cilantro.
Nik: How did yours turn out? Let me know how it all went by leaving a review. Again, you can find the written recipe in my new book, The Flavor Equation or on Food52.com. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and happy cooking.