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Cranberry-Pecan Stuffing

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

We love all kinds of stuffing, but this one bursts with the fresh flavors of the season. Start collecting bread several days before you want to make the stuffing. Two-day-old bread is perfect (a bit crusty, but not too old) and remember that the more varieties of bread you use-white, whole-wheat, rye, marble, French. Italian, cornbread, ciabatta-the better.

There’s enough stuffing here for a 10- to 12-pound turkey; if you want to use this stuffing for the Roast Turkey, you’ll need to double it. Place any leftover stuffing in a well-greased casserole. It’s also a delicious stuffing for chicken, duck, or Cornish hens, or served as a side dish to any holiday or simple family meal.

Serves8 to 10

Cooking Methodbaking, sauteeing

CostInexpensive

Easy

Total Timeunder 1 hour

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together

Recipe Courseside dish

Dietary Considerationegg-free, peanut free, soy free

Mealdinner

Moodfestive

Taste and Texturecrunchy, nutty, savory, sweet

Type of Dishbread, stuffing

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 medium Vidalia or sweet yellow onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 stalks celery, chopped
  • ½ cup very thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  • 1½ cups chopped fresh parsley
  • 10 cups cubed bread (see headnote)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, cherries, or tomatoes
  • 1 cup (3½ ounces) pecan halves or other nuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 to 1½ cups milk

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and the oil over medium-low heat. When the butter has melted and begins to sizzle, add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, for about 8 minutes, or until the onions are soft. Season with half of the thyme and some salt and pepper. Add the celery, half of the basil, and half of the parsley, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the celery is just beginning to soften. The celery should still have somewhat of a crunch.

  2. Meanwhile, place the bread in a large bowl, and mix in the remaining thyme, basil, parsley, the dried cranberries, and pecans. Pour the celery mixture from the skillet on top of the bread and gently toss to mix all of the ingredients.

  3. Place the skillet back over low heat and add the milk and the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and simmer for 2 to 4 minutes, using a spatula to scrape up any bits and pieces clinging to the bottom of the skillet. Pour 1 cup of the hot milk mixture over the bread and toss; the stuffing should be somewhat moist. If the stuffing seems dry, add the remaining ½ cup milk. Season to taste.

  4. If making the stuffing more than an hour ahead of time, cover and refrigerate until you are ready to stuff the bird. The stuffing can also be placed in a lightly greased baking dish or casserole and baked at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes, or until hot throughout. If possible, baste with some of the turkey juices from the bottom of the turkey pan to keep the stuffing moist.

  5. Variations:

  6. Add 1 dozen freshly shucked oysters (and their juices) to the skillet when the celery is cooking and cook for about 1 minute. They add a rich, briny flavor.

  7. Add 1 pound sweet sausage (taken out of the casing) to the skillet along with the onions and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring well to break up the sausage into small pieces, until golden brown.

  8. Add 1 cup roasted, coarsely chopped chestnuts instead of, or in addition to, the pecans.

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