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Mushroom Stuffing

2 lbs mushrooms, any variety
1 onion
1/2 cup red wine
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 granny smith apple, chopped
1 tsp dried sage
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried thyme
1 package bread stuffing cubes

Clean mushrooms with a slightly damp rag or napkin. Coarsely chop
mushrooms caps and stems, reserving about 2 cups of caps for the
stuffing. In a large stockpot, cover the mushroom caps and stems
with water and simmer for about an hour. Taste the stock -- it
should have a very strong mushroom flavor. Add salt and pepper to
taste. Discard the boiled mushrooms.

Saute the onion in butter or oil. When onion is almost translucent,
add the chopped mushrooms. Saute until the mushrooms release their
liquid. Add wine and herbs. Simmer until wine has almost cooked
away. Add chopped pecans and apple. Remove mixture from heat.

In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes and the mushroom/onion
mixture. Stir to incorporate. Let mixture sit for 5 minutes or
so, so the bread absorbs the liquid in the veggies.

Add a couple cups of stock. Stir and let the mixture stand. Continue
this until the bread cubes are no longer crunchy -- but don't add
so much that the mixture is soupy. Adding the right amount of liquid
is always the most difficult part of making stuffing; unfortunately,
too many factors at play mean that there's no good rule of thumb
for how much to add. Just do it right and there won't be a problem.

The stuffing can be baked in the bird or in a casserole. If it's
in a casserole, bake at 400 for about half an hour, or until it
dries out to the desired consistency.

Make a reduction of the leftover stock, butter, and some red wine
-- it makes an excellent mushroom gravy. (Be warned, though, that
there might be a little bit of sludge at the bottom of the stock
pot. Just let it settle before pouring the stock off.)

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