Who would ever have guessed that Norma Jean Baker was an accomplished chef? Well, in fact, Norma Jean was accomplished at many things including painting, writing poetry, cooking, acting, and inventing the persona, or alter ego, of Marilyn Monroe. In many ways, Marilyn Monroe was Norma Jean's undoing. If Norma Jean were on the scene today, she would eclipse almost everyone else out there. She was amazing. In 1999 two cookbooks in her personal effects sold through Christie's Auction House, one was “The New Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking-School Cook Book” and the other was the 1953 edition of “Joy of Cooking”. Both books were filled with her own recipes, including notations in the margins.
This is a photo of Marilyn's kitchen, circa 1961. Who wouldn't love this kitchen today. I love the copper range hood, and the well-used cutting board. Look at the copper pots. Those are the pots of a serious chef. If you look above the range hood, you can see a pottery tea pot, identical to one you would find in everyone's home today.
There has recently been a new book published called "Fragments", and on page 180, in Marilyn's own handwriting, is a recipe for turkey stuffing. The writers for the New York Times described it: When we gingerly tossed everything together in our largest bowl (the recipe yielded more than 20 cups), we were amazed to discover one of the most handsome stuffings we’ve encountered. The odd elements, like the profusion of raisins and the chopped egg, suddenly made sense, becoming pleasant color contrasts. Moreover, the mixture was 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. So ... with the Holiday Season coming up -- Thanksgiving in the U.S., and Christmas -- here is Marilyn Monroe's recipe for turkey stuffing.
Time: 2 hours
A 10-ounce loaf sourdough bread
1/2 pound chicken or turkey livers or hearts
1/2 pound ground round or other beef
1 tablespoon cooking oil
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups chopped curly parsley
2 eggs, hard boiled, chopped
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 1/4 cups chopped walnuts, pine nuts or roasted chestnuts, or a combination
2 teaspoons dried crushed rosemary
2 teaspoons dried crushed oregano
2 teaspoons dried crushed thyme
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt-free, garlic-free poultry seasoning (or 1 teaspoon dried sage, 1 teaspoon marjoram, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg)
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon pepper.
1. Split the bread loaf in half and soak it in a large bowl of cold water for 15 minutes. Wring out excess water over a colander and shred into pieces.
2. Boil the livers or hearts for 8 minutes in salted water, then chop until no piece is larger than a coffee bean.
3. In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef in the oil, stirring occasionally and breaking up the meat, so no piece is larger than a pistachio.
4. In your largest mixing bowl, combine the sourdough, livers, ground beef, celery, onion, parsley, eggs, raisins, Parmesan and nuts, tossing gently with your hands to combine.
Whisk the rosemary, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper together in a bowl, scatter over the stuffing and toss again with your hands. Taste and adjust for salt. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use as a stuffing or to bake separately as dressing.
Yield: 20 cups, enough for one large turkey, 2 to 3 geese or 8 chickens.