Archive for: stuffing
Oven-baked stuffing is a classic Thanksgiving side dish. While there are fans of stuffing that is actually stuffed in the bird, I find that stuffing baked in a baking dish is a lot more satisfying because the dish will have a crispy top and a perfectly moist base (and you don’t have to worry about the juice from an undercoked bird running into it). I have made all kinds of different stuffing recipes in the past, from Bacon, Pumpkin and Pecan Stuffing to Caramelized Onion Stuffing and Roasted Garlic Stuffing to Vegetarian Stuffing and a Browned Butter and Sage Stuffing. Most of these recipes are on the savory side, and while they offer a lot of great flavors, I wanted to try something a little different this year and I did that by incorporating some fruity elements into my stuffing.
Cranberry, Apple and Sage Stuffing has some savory flavors and some sweet flavors, for a balanced side dish that stands out from the crowd. This stuffing has a tart element to it that is a little unusual, but makes it a nice compliment to rich gravy and roast turkey at the Thanksgiving table. The tartness primarily comes from the fresh cranberries in the stuffing, which are bright in both color and flavor in a way that dried cranberries (which I sometimes include in my stuffing) are not. The apples also bring a bit of a sweet-tart flavor to the stuffing, although the degree of that depends on what kind of apples you’re using. I prefer to use not-too-tart apples, such as Honeycrisp.
Both fresh or dried sage will work in this recipe. Sage is a spice that I love in stuffing and this recipe is no exception, because it really goes very well with apples. I tend to use fresh sage when I have it. If you need to substitute dried sage for fresh, you should use approx 1 tbsp (instead of 3 tbsp of fresh) and make sure that your dried sage is still relatively fresh so you get the best flavor in the finished stuffing.
Thanksgiving is stuffing season as far as I’m concerned. I occasionally make it during the rest of the year, but I always do several batches around Thanksgiving and between Thanksgiving and Christmas. A basic stuffing (or dressing, if you come from a region where that name is more widely used) is a seasoned bread (or other starch) and vegetable mixture, cooked inside the turkey or in the oven alongside the bird. Like a basic bread pudding recipe, stuffing is almost like a blank slate that you can put your own spin on easily with different breads, vegetables and seasonings.
I’ve done Bacon, Pumpkin and Pecan Stuffings, Caramelized Onion Stuffing, Roasted Garlic Stuffing and Vegetarian Stuffing. This year I’m doing a Browned Butter and Sage Stuffing with Walnuts and Cranberries, where simple ingredients come together to deliver a stuffing with a lot of flavor.
I usually like to use either a relatively plain sandwich bread or a whole grain bread for stuffing. Sandwich bread typically is a blank canvas that allows other flavors to stand out. Whole grain breads add a deep, nutty flavor and can add a lot of dimension and heartiness to stuffing. Since browned butter is an element that I like to use in desserts, I wanted to use a richer and slightly sweeter bread for this particular stuffing to highlight the sweetness of the butter. I used my homemade No Knead Pumpkin Dinner Bread. If you are using that recipe, you’ll need a bit less than 3/4 of the loaf. You can use any bread, but I recommend choosing something slightly rich, such as challah, so that the browned butter has a good base to work with.
The bread cubes are tossed with cooked onions and celery, toasted walnuts and dried cranberries. The mixture is seasoned with fresh sage, then doused with browned butter and chicken stock (vegetable stock or any kind of stock could be used) before being pressed into a casserole dish and baked. The stuffing has a nice crunch from the walnuts, a crisp top and an almost creamy center from the tender bread. And, of course, you get a nice note of browned butter that makes the dish taste rich and complex.
Leftovers go very well in turkey sandwiches, too.
Even if you have a very large oven, sometimes it just doesn’t seem like there is enough space in there to bake everything that you want to bake. This is particularly true around holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, where many of us entertain large groups of family and friends for holiday dinners, but can be true any time of year that you are having guests over for a big meal. My oven, for instance, only has two racks and there are times when I’ve had to be a little creative in what pieces of bakeware I use to fit everything in there! Scandinavian designer Christian Bjørn developed this Oven-to-Table Stacking Bakeware Set that essentially puts several extra shelves in your oven. The ceramic baking dishes come in three sizes: Small (4.7″ w x 6.7″ l x 2.5″), Med *9.4″ w x 6.7″ l x 2.5″) and Large (9.4″ w x 13.8″ l x 2.5″ t) that are stackable in any number of different configurations. What makes them special is that they have scalloped cut-outs around the sides to ensure that there is plenty of airflow between each stacked layer so that everything will cook evenly no matter how you arrange them in the oven.
The dishes are all microwave, oven, freezer and dishwasher safe, so they’re easy to use and easy to clean and you’ll find yourself using them more often than just around the holidays. They’re also more than attractive enough to use as serving dishes.
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.
Stuffing is one of the many foods that just never looks as good as it tastes. Actually, I should say that it starts to look very good but only after you know how it tastes. When I was a kid I always shied away from the stuffing. It looked “wet” or “icky” or there was “stuff” in it. Now, the exact same stuffing recipe makes my mouth water when I see a batch, because I know how good the flavorful bread and veggie mixture really is.
This particular stuffing is a Roasted Garlic Stuffing, and one of my Thanksgiving side dishes for this year. It looks plain, as stuffings go, but has a lot of flavor. I used an entire head of roasted garlic in the stuffing, so it tastes a bit like garlic bread mixed in with the sage and vegetable mixture I used as a base. It goes great with both turkey and gravy. It has a crispy top and moist interior, as this is baked in the oven in a casserole dish before serving. I used a mixture of whole grain and plain white bread for the stuffing pictured and would recommend using white bread or another mild-tasting bread for this stuffing because a strong, multi-grain bread might overwhelm the flavor of the garlic a bit.
The only problem with baked stuffings is that you usually have to wait until the turkey is done before putting them in the oven. One of the best things about this recipe is that it allows you to multi-task by roasting the garlic while the turkey cooks, so you can have everything ready to go in when the bird comes out.
I’m serving this with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes for a Garlic-Themed Thanksgiving Menu!