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Entertaining

The Right Stuff(ing)
November 19, 2010 • Posted by Jennifer Perillo

Stove Top. These two words describe the stuffing we traditionally grew up making. Well, not me, my mom and aunts. Personally, I don’t know what it tastes like since I always refused to eat (sometimes it pays to be a picky eater).

My first encounter with homemade stuffing was when I met my husband 15 years ago. As I settled into round two of Thanksgiving dinner with him and his parents, he beamed with pride at the tray as he spooned some into a serving dish. Needless to say, I was very impressed. What man cooks a whole Thanksgiving meal for his parents, the whole thing from scratch too?

Over the years we’ve tweaked that original recipe, the biggest debate being sausage or meat-free. While I’m a full-on omnivore, I much prefer my stuffing of the vegetarian persuasion. I added finely chopped mushrooms to give it a “meaty” texture and threw in some fresh sage for a traditional flavor. Chopped pecans are a much easier alternative to chestnuts, and dried cherries lend a lovely aromatic note, making this a pretty tasty compromise for our Thanksgiving menu.

Brioche Stuffing with Dried Cherries & Pecans
Serves 8 to 10

1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces fresh white button mushrooms, finely minced
1 large carrot, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup pecans, chopped fine
1/2 cup dried cherries
4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
4 cups cubed, stale challah or brioche (1/2-inch cube)
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock or broth
1 large egg, lightly beaten

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter or grease the bottom and sides of 7-inch by 12-inch glass casserole dish.
  2. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until golden—do not stir too much or mushrooms will not brown properly. Add the carrots, onions and garlic, and remaining tablespoon of olive oil if necessary, and saute until golden and carrots begin to get tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in the pecans, cherries and sage. Cook for 2 more to let flavors meld.
  3. Add bread cubes to a deep bowl and pour in the cooked vegetable mixture. Pour in 1 1/2 cups of vegetable stock and stir well to combine. Add the egg and stir until well mixed. Scrape stuffing into the prepared baking dish, drizzle with the remaining stock, cover with foil and let stand on counter for 10 minutes.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, remove the foil and continue baking for 10 minutes, until it puffs a little and forms a golden, crispy topping.

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