Do you like stuffing? I do. A lot. Personally, I don’t consider any Thanksgiving table complete without a big bowl of stuffing. It’s integral… almost as much as the turkey itself. Unfortunately, I’ve had some pretty awful stuffing in my day. I would venture this to be the case for most people.
I get it – hosting a Thanksgiving dinner can be stressful, especially if your guest list is in the double digits. The stuffing can be an afterthought; something a busy host can snag from his local supermarket’s shelf. Like its close relative cranberry sauce, it’s considered formality.
I would argue that it’s too important to be subjected to such disregard. Especially considering how easy it is to prepare, you can do so in advance. We must set an example; off the shelf stuffing simply won’t cut it.
This Thanksgiving, do me a favour: try my recipe. It’s easy and delicious.
1 loaf rye bread, cut into cubes
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 handfuls of almonds, crushed and toasted
1 ½ teaspoon thyme leaves
½ lb piece of slab bacon, cut into lardon (diced)
2 cups chicken stock or broth (homemade turkey stock, if you’re really cool)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
This recipe is flexible; every household has a different preference. Here are some guidelines for the interchangeable parts.
Bread: The bread is better if it’s a little bit stale. Rye is the bread I normally have on hand and works very well but this application will work with any dense bread. If you happen to only have fresh bread, place the loaf on a tray in the oven at 200℉. A warming oven works just as well.
Herbs: I think thyme works best, but I’ve had success with sage as well. You could also conceivably go with parsley (preferably dried) or any combination of the above.
Nuts: I always have almonds on hand, so that’s what I use. Feel free to use pine nuts, cashews, or walnuts. I would stay away from the hazelnuts and peanuts though; I think the flavor would be too pronounced.
Bacon: Lardon is just a fancy way of saying diced. Cut the bacon in thin strips. Any bacon will work. If you can, try and get your hands on some higher quality slab bacon. Generally, you can find this at the butcher’s counter – they will cut it up for you just like other cured meats. If you live in the US and want the best, get some mail order bacon from Benton’s.
Stock or Broth: The best thing to use would be homemade turkey stock but even if you do make your own, it’s usually only available after Thanksgiving. Regular chicken or vegetable stock will work fine, but be sure to use the low-sodium variety. Depending on what your expectations of stuffing are, add more or less stock. The current recipe will yield a semi-firm stuff. I know some people like it either dryer (less stock) or more viscous (more stock). My household likes crispy exterior and edges.
Salt & Pepper: I hate listing an actual amount but this is a good baseline. So many factors come into play here. How salty is your broth or stock? How salty is your brand of bacon? When in doubt, lean towards less and add some at the end.
Fruit: No fruit in this recipe but it’s a very common addition. I like mine simple, but any of the following would be a nice addition: pears, golden raisins, currants, or apples.
- In a cold skillet, add bacon and turn burner to a low-medium heat. Cook the bacon to desired texture. Remove and lay on paper towel to drain.
- Add the onion to the bacon fat; cook over moderate heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the thyme and cook for about 1 minute. Remove and add to bowl with bacon.
- Rub the dish down with some bacon fat so nothing sticks. Add the bacon, bread, almonds, and onions to the dish.
- In a bowl, whisk the chicken broth with the egg. Pour over the bread mixture and add the kosher salt and pepper. Mix until the bread soaks up the liquid. Cover with foil and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight (or not at all if you are in a rush – I’ve done it)
- Bake the stuffing for about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes, until golden. Serve.
There you have it: stuffing!
Throw it together with a turkey leg, a scoop of cranberry sauce, and smother it all with some scratch gravy. Turn on the football game and you have yourself a proper Holiday feast.
Happy Thanksgiving from FMMS!