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Mushroom Dressing

The mushrooms add a deep, woodsy flavor. Remember not to sample the dressing once the raw eggs have been added. Make this with good bread, not the squishy supermarket type. At the least, use a firm Pepperidge Farm sandwich loaf.

Make-ahead tips: The day before, assemble ingredients (but don't chop mushrooms or garlic) and refrigerate. Mix and bake Thanksgiving day.

Transportation tip: Dressing will stay hot in insulated case at least 1 hour; wrapped in towels, about 30 minutes.

2 cups coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
20 slices (1 1/2 pounds) firm white bread, preferably crusty peasant bread
2 containers (8 ounces each) white button mushrooms
1 container (10 ounces) baby portabella or cremini mushrooms
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter
3 large onions, chopped
4 medium celery stalks, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) chicken or vegetable broth
6 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter two 9-by-13-inch baking dishes or 1 large roasting pan (it works better in 2 pans).

Put nuts in another baking pan. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until toasted. Tip out onto plate. In food processor, in batches, process bread to coarse crumbs. Transfer to bowl. Add mushrooms, in batches, and pulse just until coarsely chopped.

In large deep skillet or Dutch oven, melt 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) butter over medium heat. Add onions, celery and garlic and cook about 10 minutes, stirring often, until tender. Stir in mushrooms, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper and cook 5 minutes, stirring often, until mushrooms have released their juices and the juices have nearly evaporated.

Scrape vegetables into very large bowl or pot. Add bread crumbs, nuts and broth. Mix lightly and taste for seasoning; add eggs and blend lightly. Divide between prepared baking dishes. Dot with remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Cover with foil.

Bake 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 20 to 25 minutes longer, until top is browned and crisp. Makes 12 generous servings.

Miriam Rubin

Monday, November 20, 2000

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