I agree with the many millions who think the stuffing or dressing is the star and the turkey an accompaniment, with the gravy as the saucy bit (gilding the lily) that makes it all a very happy and tasty marriage.
Stuffing, although a humble dish, is not as easy to make as it looks. It’s a fine line between being too rich or too dry or too wet.
Not all stuffing recipes call for eggs. But eggs not only enrich the flavor, but they keep the stuffing moist and help the ingredients bind together.
You can vary the type of bread, such as a good Italian, sourdough or even plain old white bread will do. Dress it up by adding some cooked sliced mushrooms, shucked fresh oysters or peeled and chopped roasted chestnuts.
I used to be a fan of cooking the stuffing in the bird, because I loved how moist the turkey juices made it. But I began to feel the texture was a bit too soft and the flavor a bit too rich. I now favor baking it separately, enabling a crispy top, while maintaining a moist interior.
This recipe would be also be great as a stuffing for baked stuffed mushrooms.
Have a happy and delicious Thanksgiving!
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Bacon, Onion and Kale Stuffing
Serves 8 (makes about 10 cups stuffing)
1 pound loaf of bread, such as Italian, multi-grain or cornbread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (11 cups)
4 slices bacon, chopped
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 package (5 ounces) baby kale
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 large eggs, beaten
2-1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or stock, divided
- Preheat oven to 375°F and grease a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Spread bread out on a large sheet pan and toast in middle of oven, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 7 minutes, and let cool. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Cook bacon in a large skillet over moderate heat until crispy. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet.
- Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter in skillet with fat over moderate heat. Add onions, celery and salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add kale, thyme, sage and garlic and cook stirring, until kale is just starting to wilt, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat.
- In large bowl, add cooked onion mixture, eggs and 1 ¾ cups broth and stir well. Add bacon and bread cubes. tossing until just combined. Put in prepared dish and dot with remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Drizzle with remaining ½ cup broth. Cover with foil and bake in middle of oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes more.
- Add to turkey sandwiches
- Use as a topping for shepherd’s pie
- Add to ground meat for a meatloaf or meatballs
- Use as a stuffing for pork chops or to put on top of chicken cutlets or salmon, and bake.
- Use as a stuffing for mushrooms, baked clams, zucchini or peppers
- Add more egg and some leftover shredded turkey or cooked or canned salmon and make into fritters, pan fried in olive oil or baked. Top with a lemon garlic yogurt.
- Mix in a little more beaten egg and form into balls with a nugget of mozzarella in the center and pan-fry in olive oil or bake.
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