Every good bird would love to have some stuffing alongside it, right? Well, there are tons of ways to make a great stuffing so you really can choose the ‘additions’ to the bread portions as you see fit (mostly dry goods) so in my case, I pulled from my Mediterranean heritage and decided to add dried figs, pine nuts, sage, thyme and plenty of garlic to mine.
Start out any stuffing recipe with dried bread (i.e. croutons). I make mine with one whole loaf of Italian bread (make sure it has simple ingredients and it’s not a science experiment like some bread in the market is today). I cut it into thin slices then dice it up, place on baking sheets and toast for about 10 minutes in a 375° F oven. You can definitely do this part the night before, too, along with all of the chopping up of veggies.
Gather up all your ingredients- in addition to the toasted bread (croutons) and figs/pine nuts/garlic I mentioned, you’ll need celery, onions and two very important ingredients I think should go into most stuffing: chicken broth and white or red grape juice, which is an alcohol-free alternative to wine or sherry that is often suggested in stuffing recipes.
Once that’s all gathered, butter the dish you’re going to bake the mixture in- it turns out that is dish pictured here was a bit too tight so I transferred it all into a larger oven-safe bowl. Just be sure to: 1) butter the baking dish; and 2) butter the foil you’ll put on top of the dish- that way all the melted butter will drip down into the stuffing and make it extra delicious.
So first you’re going to use a large sauté pan heat the butter and add the onions, cooking down for about a minute or two.
Next, add the diced celery and garlic. Cook for an additional minute or two to soften. You can brown them slightly if you choose to, as well, which just requires a few more minutes of cooking.
Now it’s time to add the juice and it’s an important step in that it adds sweetness to the dish. What you must do here is to evaporate most of the juice in this step- not all, just most, so leave about 2 tablespoons. I turn the pan on high and it goes faster that way.
*About the juice: I use a 100% white grape juice from Trader Joe’s that comes in a six pack and is intended for kids. I like it because it isn’t too sweet and doesn’t have anything extra in it and as in most juices it’s a good idea to look out for gelatin, which can be pork-derived, and is often added to juices to clarify their appearance.
Remove from heat immediately and set aside.
Next we’re going to utilize another important product- chicken broth. If you know me as a food blogger, you know the Saffron Road brand is my favored brand for years, and not simply because it’s halal, but also because it’s a quality product- certified humane from 100% vegetarian fed birds free of antibiotics. It’s also a low-sodium product. This broth is a rich stock and I can tell it’s made carefully and produced with quality ingredients because I’ve made my own broth for years out of never wanting to purchase other stocks, broths and chicken bouillon cubes full of monosodium glutamate and who knows what other types of ingredients. I use the Traditional Chicken Broth for this one, but you might also want to try the Artisan Roasted Chicken Broth or go vegetarian and use their Classic Culinary Vegetable Broth.
Pour the broth into the buttered baking dish (you can also add the broth at the end, but I like doing it this way, for some reason.
Now add all the pre-cut, dried and sautéed ingredients- pine nuts…
Chop up the herbs, or leave them whole.
One other thing- beat two eggs vigorously and pour onto the mixture, as well.
Mix it all up.
Bake in the oven at 350° F for 20 minutes, covered. Remove the foil and then continue baking in the oven for 30 minutes.
Enjoy with your favorite poultry- you can either serve on the side or serve stuffed into the bird after the stuffing is done.
- 1 loaf Italian bread (about 16 cups/about 1 pound)
- 6-8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 onions, minced (about 1-1/4 cups)
- 4 stalks celery (about 2 cups)
- 4-5 cloves garlic (about 3 tablespoons minced)
- Sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup white grape juice (low sugar content)
- 1- 1/4 cup dried figs, roughly chopped and stems removed
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- Few sprigs fresh thyme, chopped or whole
- Few sprigs fresh sage, chopped or whole
- 2 and 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- Preheat oven to 375° F.
- Cut bread loaf into 1/2-inch pieces then into cubes and place on baking sheets in the oven for about 10 minutes.
- Butter a large oven-safe dish. Butter the foil you'll put on top of the dish so the melted butter will drip down into the stuffing.
- Next, use a large sauté pan to heat the butter and add the onions, cooking down for about a minute or two.
- Next, add the diced celery and garlic. Cook for an additional minute or two to soften. You can brown them slightly if you choose to, as well, which just requires a few more minutes of cooking. Add the juice to sweeten the dish. Evaporate most of the juice, leaving about 2 tablespoons. Remove from heat immediately and set aside.
- Pour the chicken broth into the baking dish. Add the remaining ingredients and the two beaten eggs. Mix together.
- Bake in 350° F oven for 20 minutes, covered. Remove covering and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Remove from oven immediately and serve as a side dish or stuff inside a fully cooked turkey or chicken for presentation.