On page 180, of Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters, a collection of Marilyn’s letters and musings from 1943 to her death in 1962, appears her handwritten lengthy and flavourful recipe for stuffing.
Penned on the letterhead of an insurance company, embellished with endearing spelling mistakes (parsarly) and reminders of her husband’s preferences (no garlic), the mixture is said to be, “delicious, a nice balance of vegetables, meats and bold seasonings, just faintly, tonically sweet from the raisins. Even the texture was superior, a fluffy, damp blend that packed well into a chicken cavity and emerged loosely gelled.”
The recipe, somewhat exotic for American cooking at the time, is said to be passed to Marilyn from her husband at the time, Joe DiMaggio’s mother, a Sicilian. It calls for three types of nuts, eggs, sourdough bread (which was to be soaked, wrung and shredded), parmesan cheese, raisins, giblets (liver and heart) and an array of spices.
Yields about 10 cups
6 ounces pain au levian (sourdough)
1/4 pound giblets (chicken livers)1/4 pound ground sirloin
1 cup mirepoix
2 bay leaves
1 cup chopped, fresh parsley
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
1/2 cup raisins (substitute any dried fruits)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2/3 cup cooked chestnuts, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Soak the pain au levian in water for 15 minutes. Drain the bread in a colander for 5 minutes and squeeze it dry. Pull it apart into small pieces.
While the bread is soaking and draining, prepare the livers and ground beef. Boil the livers for 8 to 10 minutes, until they are done. Finely chop the cooked livers. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet, and transfer the meat to a bowl.
Sauté the mirepoix and bay leaves in the remaining beef fat for 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and stir together the shredded bread, cooked livers, browned beef, sautéed mirepoix, parsley, eggs, raisins, cheese, chestnuts, salt, pepper, and dried herbs.
Stuff your favourite large bird and roast away!