An opinion on stuffing is akin to having an opinion on how you like your eggs prepared. Everyone should know what they prefer. For example, I am a crispy, savory, all-the-bacon-or-sausage-please stuffing fan and I like my eggs soft scrambled or over medium, por favor. I was fashionably late to the stuffing world and only recently have been developing my own recipe – unfortunately that meant making and eating pans upon pans of stuffing to the point where it will take several Thanksgivings for me to want it again. I’m pretty sure Patrick feels the same way but he’s too nice to say anything of the sort.
So here is my take on stuffing- large chunks of crispy edged bread, easy on the sage (too much sage is overwhelming in my opinion), heavy on the rosemary, and the added twist of spiced pecans and optional sausage, vegetarian or otherwise. It’s delicious and sure to become a favorite to the point that your family will ask for it again and again. It is easily modifiable, and if you want a little more of this or a little more of that, go right ahead. Like I said, it’s like figuring out how you prefer your eggs.
ROSEMARY APPLE PECAN STUFFING
inspired by: Victoria Granof’s “Simple is Best” dressing on Epicurious
makes one large pan, 13×9 inch, which would probably feed 12 as a side
14-16 ounces rustic white loaf
2 medium yellow onions, diced
3 large stalks celery, diced
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 small tart apples (I used granny smith), chopped into bite sized pieces
1.5-2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1 cup pecan halves, chopped just a few times to break up large pieces
12 ounces cooked sausage (either chicken apple or field roast* vegan sausage), diced
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon sea salt
pepper to taste
2-2.5 cups broth, chicken or vegetable (2.5 for a wetter stuffing)
3 large eggs
Tear bread into bite sized pieces put in a generously buttered 13×9 inch baking dish. Bake at 250 degrees F for 1 hour, stirring halfway, until bread is dried out (keep the pan to reuse later).
In a large pan, sauté the onions and celery in 4 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. Then add the chopped apples, rosemary, thyme, and sage and sauté for another minute. Remove from heat and pour into a large mixing bowl.
Reuse the same fry pan and sauté the pecans and sausage together in cayenne, cinnamon, 2 tablespoons butter, and maple syrup. After 2 – 3 minutes, remove the sausage and pecans from heat and add to the onion and celery mixture in the large bowl.
When your bread is finished baking, toss together the baked bread pieces with the rest of the stuffing. Sprinkle on salt and pepper. Pour 1.5 cups of broth over ingredients and toss gently. Let cool for 15 minutes or so before the next step**. This is a great time to preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
After your stuffing has cooled slightly, beat the three eggs with remaining ½-1 cup broth and mix into your stuffing.
Spoon stuffing into the pan you used to bake the bread, and cover with foil. Bake stuffing at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes, then 30 more minutes uncovered, until top is brown and crispy. If you prefer an extra crispy stuffing top, broil the stuffing for an additional minute or two at the end of cooking to crisp even further.
*One example of the alternative meat product you could use (this is not a paid affiliation with Whole Foods, though I do like this product)
**If you add the beaten eggs too soon, your eggs will start to cook when mixed into the hot stuffing