“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Stuffing or Dressing, This Recipe is Sure to Please!
Before I launch into today’s post I thought I would make a quick mention about why I’m posting today, as opposed to my usual day. It’s quite simple really… I know that a great many of you will be rather tied up this Thursday what with all the turkeys to cook and pies to bake. I also thought that you might like to have a day or two extra to plan to incorporate this AMAZING recipe into your holiday meal! Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends and readers!
A few years ago while enjoying a summer vacation on Georgian Bay I overheard a hilarious statement made by a 14 year old kid. As we the adults in the crowd sat a little closer to the cottage (read: closer to the wine in the fridge in the cottage) enjoying the starry night, the kids were down near the water having a bonfire and making S’mores. They were discussing random things as kids are wont to do when one of them came out with “I think my biggest regret in life is that I don’t like marshmallows.”
Of course, we laughed uproariously at the time, but the statement has stuck with me… I mean I sort of get it. I think one of my larger regrets in life is that I don’t like stuffing. I WANT to like stuffing. I mean honestly look at all the ingredients! Delicious! And they should come together in a way that there should be no room for regrets and yet…
I seem to be writing a lot lately about foods I DON’T like, which is a little odd isn’t it? I must be going through a re-examination period of my life 🙂
I am a firm believer that life deserves assessing and as food is the cornerstone of my life it is food that is most often up for examination and criticism. I have decided that there are a number of reasons for my disdain for stuffing or dressing or whatever you want to call it…. it’s either too soggy… too dry… too fruity… too meaty… you get the point, I’ve just never really had one that I felt really hit the target. In my opinion there should be a perfect balance of bready goodness, savoury aromatics, I suppose a bit of fruit wouldn’t be a bad thing but somehow it just doesn’t work for me, and a hint of meat but only a hint… I mean honestly, it is a side dish and not the main course, right?
Over the years, I’ve tried a number… some hits (by the “LOVES stuffing” crowd), some misses by my standards, and some all out failures. I’ve had discussions with friends and family who share a commitment to creating beautiful and delicious food and it seems to me that NO ONE has a fail safe method or recipe… and NO I am NOT talking about those that use a boxed version… ew. Just ew.
Recently however Bon Appetit Magazine featured an article in their online edition on this very topic. It wasn’t about WHAT went into the perfect stuffing but rather what combinations and amounts should be used to create exactly the right balance for that delectable chewy/crunchy texture one expects, nay, deserves in a holiday side dish.
After much indecision and second guessing, I’ve put together what I believe may possibly be the very best of the options available. However since my goal here at Be Still & Eat is to create recipes that you will enjoy I offer many alternatives and substitutions in the recipe.
Enjoy & Namaste!
- 1 loaf ciabatta bread, torn into 1" pieces and spread on a baking sheet and left to dry overnight.
- Olive oil for pan
- 4 thick slices
- 4 stalks
- 2 medium
- 2 cups swiss chard or other hearty leafy green OPTIONAL but recommended
- 2 TBSP fresh sage, rough chopped
- 2 TBSP fresh thyme, rough chopped
- 2TBSP fresh tarragon, rough chopped
- 1 chilli pepper, variety will be determined on your affinity for heat, finely diced
- ⅓ cup any of the following and all
areOPTIONAL: pecan, cashews, hazelnuts, cranberries, raisins, chopped prunes, oysters
- ½ cup butter + 2 TBSP
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup white wine, apple cider vinegar OR dry sherry
- 1¾ - 2 cups chicken broth
- Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a shallow 9 x 13" baking dish.
- Place bread and herbs and any of the other optional add-ins in a very large bowl.
- Heat olive oil in a large (preferably cast iron) skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add diced pancetta, cooking until lightly golden and fat rendered Using a slotted spoon, transfer to bowl with bread mixture.
- Add onions, celery, and swiss chard to
sameskillet; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring often until onions are softened and browned around the edges, 10–12 minutes.
- Scrape aromatics into
bowlwith bread mixture. I used tongs to leave much of the moisture left by the chard.
- Return skillet to medium heat and pour in deglazing liquid; cook, scraping up any browned bits, until almost all liquid has evaporated.
- Add ½ cup butter and cook, stirring, until melted. Drizzle over bread mixture. Whisk eggs and 1½ to 2 cups stock in a medium bowl and add to bread mixture.
- Season with salt and pepper and toss until combined, adding more stock ¼-cupful at a time as needed to ensure bread is fully hydrated but not sopping wet.
- Transfer stuffing to prepared baking dish and dot with 2 TBSP. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces. Cover with foil,, crimping edges to seal. Bake until a paring knife inserted into the center comes out hot, 30–35 minutes.
- Remove foil and increase oven temperature to 450°. Bake until top is well browned, 20–25 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.