Friday, December 28, 2012

Holiday Supper Stuffing

So, even though the bulk of the celebratory season is behind us, who's still nursing holiday leftovers? How many of you don't want to eat another iota of turkey, potatoes, cranberry sauce or gravy for as long as you live (or at least for another year)? I hear you - really I do. Our household played chief cook and bottle washer for a big Italian Christmas Eve meal, Christmas morning brunch and that night's feast as well - and our freezer has gone from being packed with raw ingredients to being stuffed with bits of turkey, vegetables, fish and various breads. Even though it may be the 28th now, if you can believe it we still have one more big shindig to host and cook for before it's all over!
 
Thankfully, the majority of my stepdad's birthday party is catered by a third party (taking the pressure off my mom) but, just like home-cooked holiday meals, there's always too much food left over at the end! While a lot of the items (particularly the cooked and sauced veggies and the salads) aren't great the day after, some of the items on our holiday table are not only tasty, but better after a stint in the fridge. This stuffing (or dressing, if you prefer) is one of them. 

Now, I'm the first to admit that I really don't like stuffing at all - the greasy, damp texture and odd blend of flavours has been putting me off since I was old enough to hold a fork. I don't like bread pudding either, so that may be a sign! However, if you don't think of this as the traditional, shoved-in-the-carcass side dish, and more of a savoury bread casserole, the piquant sourdough and sweet-spicy mixture of herbs and aromatics is somewhat endearing. The day it's made, it has a delectable crunchy top that crouton lovers and fans of anything au gratin will covet. Then, with each passing day, the flavours of sourdough, wine, dried fruit, nuts and other ingredients meld more and more into a whole unlike any traditional stuffing I've seen.
 
I have to tell you, though, that I was as surprised as ever to find myself writing a recipe for the holiday food I most detest. You can blame my mother (she gives you permission), who came to me in the midst of my cookie baking spree and asked if I knew how to make stuffing that was not intended to fill the Christmas bird and that didn't involve the inclusion of meat. Of course, I had not a whit of a clue (why would I?) but I told her I would find out - and thanks to the interwebs I found many different ideas that I more or less pooled to create our Holiday Stuffing.
 
Even though this recipe keeps and is fantastic for days, it does have one major downfall - there are very few leftovers! My normally casserole, bread and leftover-hating stepfamily gobbled up a good portion of the dish on Christmas night, and my stepbrother even took a big container of it to his fiancee's home the next day!

While I wish I had made the loaf for this stuffing, I was busy making baguettes. Nevertheless, I'm sending this bread-based treat to YeastSpotting on the blog Wild Yeast.

Holiday Supper Stuffing

Holiday Supper Stuffing
Makes 20 generous side dish servings
1 large loaf day-old sourdough or country-style bread (about 24 oz), cut into ¾” cubes (you can leave the crust on if you like - we did)
¼ cup butter
2 leeks, thinly sliced
3 large celery stalks, with leaves, diced
5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped (do not use garlic powder as it will scorch)
¾ cup packed dried cranberries
½ cup diced dried apricots
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 tbsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp rosemary
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp fennel seed
1 cup white wine
1 tsp Kosher salt
½ tsp ground pepper
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
  1. Preheat oven to 400F degrees and butter a 4 qt casserole dish.
  2. Place bread cubes in a bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, melt the butter and cook the leeks celery, and garlic until softened, about 7 minutes.
  4. Add fruit, pecans, poultry seasoning, rosemary, thyme and fennel seed. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  5. Stir in the wine and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by half.
  6. Pour into the bread mixture and add salt and pepper.
  7. Add parsley, and eggs, stir to combine.
  8. Add broth in two additions, stirring until absorbed after each addition. Season generously with salt and pepper and transfer stuffing to dish.
  9. Bake on middle rack until deep golden brown on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 202.3
Total Fat: 8.2 g
Cholesterol: 24.6 mg
Sodium: 355.0 mg
Total Carbs: 26.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.5 g
Protein: 4.8 g