I think that the name Bacon, Pumpkin and Pecan Stuffing alone should be enough to sell almost anyone on giving this tasty stuffing recipe a try. I love making stuffing for Thanksgiving and will often make several batches in the weeks leading up to the big holiday to fine tune my recipes and try variations. This is one of them. I’ve put sausage in stuffing before and I’ve made vegetarian stuffing many times. Bacon isn’t always a food that I associate with Thanksgiving, but I know that bacon lovers everywhere would tell me that everything is better with bacon, and that inspired me to incorporate some into my stuffing.
For this stuffing – a baked-in-the-oven stuffing, not a baked-in-the-turkey one – I first cooked up some finely chopped pieces of bacon. I cooked the bacon until it was crisp, removed it from the frying pan, and tossed my diced onions and celery into the bacon fat. Once those were tender, I added in some spice and some maple syrup, and poured the whole bacon-y mixture, along with the crispy bacon bits, to a mixture of whole grain bread, roasted pumpkin and chopped pecans.
There is just enough bacon to give everything a slightly salty, savory coating and add a whole lot of flavor to this dish, and it goes very well with all of the other elements of the stuffing. The stuffing bakes up to be crisp on top and deliciously moist and tender inside, with a nice bit of crunch from the bacon bits and chopped pecans. I roasted the pumpkin in advance (here are instructions) and used whole grain bread, which had a nutty flavor that complimented both the bacon and the pecans. Feel free to use walnuts instead of pecans, if you prefer, and butternut squash (or another winter squash) can make a nice stand in for the pumpkin.
Bacon, Pumpkin and Pecan Stuffing
7 cups roughly cubed whole grain sandwich bread
2 cups roasted pumpkin, cubed
4-5 slices bacon, diced
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter an 8×8 or 9×9-inch baking dish
Toss cubed bread and roasted pumpkin into a large mixing bowl.
Heat a skillet to medium-high and add in diced bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until bacon is crispy. Strain bacon out and add diced onions and celery to the pan. Reduce heat to medium and cook until onions are just tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in ground sage, garlic powder and maple syrup.
Pour onion mixture over bread cubes. Add in crispy bacon bits and pecans. Toss to coat everything. Pour in chicken broth and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir mixture gently with a spatula until everything is well combined.
Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until stuffing is golden brown on top.