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Sourdough Stuffing with Roasted Chestnuts and Apples

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Whether you make this as stuffing and fill the cavity of the turkey before roasting or do as I do and bake it separately as dressing, the combination of toasted sourdough bread cubes with tart apples, richly flavored roasted chestnuts, and savory sautéed vegetables and herbs makes this a sensational accompaniment to the holiday bird. Pair this with the Juniper-Brined Roast Turkey or the delectable Hickory Grill-Roasted Turkey.

If you prefer not to roast your own chestnuts, you can buy peeled chestnuts in vacuum-sealed packages, cans, or jars at specialty-food stores. You will need about 2 cups. Drain any liquid in which they are packed. Prepared chestnuts are usually boiled rather than roasted, resulting in a bit of flavor loss. However, placing them on a rimmed baking sheet and roasting them at 375°F for 15 minutes really improves their flavor.

Do Ahead:

The bread cubes can be prepared up to 3 days in advance. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. The fresh chestnuts can be prepared up to 2 weeks in advance and frozen in lock-top freezer bags or an airtight container. Thaw the chestnuts for 1 hour, and then roast them for 10 to 12 minutes at 400°F to refresh them. The vegetables and apples can be sautéed along with the herbs 1 day in advance. Let the mixture cool completely, place it in a covered container, and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator 2 hours before assembling the stuffing.

Chicken Stock and Broth:

I’m one of those cooks who always has homemade chicken stock in the freezer. It’s a habit: Every time I roast a whole chicken, I make a small batch of stock by tossing the neck, giblets, and wing tips into a saucepan with a bit of chopped yellow onion, celery, and carrot; a small bay leaf; a few black peppercorns; and cold water to cover. I simmer it for an hour, strain it, let it cool, skim off the fat—and I have stock. It’s easy and never feels like a chore—at least to me. Canned broth is a good substitute. Look for a brand that is low in salt; I prefer Swanson’s low-sodium, fat-free organic broth.

Serves12

Cooking Methodbaking

CostModerate

Moderate

Total Timeunder 4 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionFamily Get-together

Recipe Courseside dish

Dietary Considerationpeanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturefruity, herby, nutty, savory

Type of Dishbread, stuffing

Ingredients

  • One 1-pound loaf sourdough bread, crust removed, bread cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1½ pound fresh chestnuts (see Notes)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 granny smith apples (about ¾ pound total weight) peeled, cored and cut into ½-inch dice
  • ½ cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 cups homemade chicken stock (see Notes) or canned low-sodium chicken broth

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400°F, Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Toast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F.

To prepare the chestnuts, using a sharp paring knife, make a long slash on the flat side of each chestnuts, cutting through the outer shell and inner skin. Spread the chestnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour. Every 15 minutes, sprinkle the chestnuts with a little water. Peel the chestnuts while they are still quite warm but cool enough to handle. Using the paring knife, remove the outer shells and the inner brown skins. Discard any chestnuts that look rotten. Set any chestnuts that are hard to peel, then rewarm them in the 375°F oven for 2 to 3 minutes or place them on a paper towel and microwave on high for 45 seconds. Repeat as needed until easy to peel. You should have about 2 cups peeled nuts. Break all the chestnut meats into small chunks and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.

Coat a deep, 9-by-13-inch baking pan with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Place the bread cubes and chestnuts in a very large bowl. In large sauté pan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Swirl to coat the pan and add the onion, carrots, and celery. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and just beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the apples and sauté for 2 minutes longer. Add the parsley, thyme, sage, salt, and a few grinds of pepper and sauté for 1 minute longer. Add the apple mixture to the bread cubes and stir to combine.

Add the eggs and stock to the bowl and mix well. Scoop the stuffing into the prepared pan and bake, uncovered, for about 1 hour until the top is lightly browned and crusty.

If you have room in your oven, bake the stuffing while the turkey is roasting. Otherwise, bake it beforehand and reheat it once the turkey is out.

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