Some people love stuffing and some people could care less. I fall somewhere in the middle but Thanksgiving dinner is unfathomable without stuffing. That being said, my traditional-ness ends there and I love to play with the flavors stuffing can bring to the table. Last year I come up with this idea of and this year I feel it has turned into a romantic deliciousness all on its own, with the main focus being the obvious addition of dried fruits and nuts. As you will see in the recipe I make suggestions for the fruit and nut addition rather than requirements. Pecans, Hazelnuts, Walnuts and Almonds all would make great additions. Peanuts and Cashews on the other hand- not so much.
For the dried fruits, I used dried Apricots, Dates, and there were Cranberries in the bread. Golden Raisins, Figs, and Cherries would also be lovely. While I love dried Mangos, Bananas and Strawberries, they really should be reserved for trail mix- in my humble opinion. But, beyond that- play- experiment- make this your own favorite combination!
The Harvest Bread from Whole Foods is my personal favorite to use because it is already full of the Hazelnuts, Cranberries and Dates- so even the bread is full of fruits & nuts for this stuffing! But, I realize not everyone has access to this bread- I would therefore recommend a Hearty Grain French Bread as a substitute or if you are looking for something a tad sweeter and dare I say ‘naughtier’ Panettone is generally available in boxes everywhere and could add an amazingly delicious element. Make sure you don’t pick up the Chocolate variety- just the fruit and nut one. Unless you enjoy chocolate in your turkey… ugh... that's not a pleasant thought.
Remember- make this your own and enjoy!
Fruit & Nut Stuffing
1 1/2 pounds Harvest Bread, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon high heat vegetable oil, such as safflower or coconut oil
2 cups celery, roughly chopped small
2 cups onions, roughly chopped small
1 apple, roughly chopped (leave the peels on)
1 ½ cups dried fruit, chopped small (dates, cranberries, apricots, figs, cherries &/or golden raisins)
3-5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 ½ cups nuts, broken into pieces (hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, sliced almonds)
¼ cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, &/or thyme—sing with me now)
The bread cubes can be prepared several days ahead or at least a few hours prior to starting the stuffing. If preparing a few days ahead, spread the cubes out on a baking sheet and set out to dry for a couple days. If you are concerned about pets or family members mistaking the cubes for snacks cover them with brown paper bags or parchment paper. Some air holes will help as well. I live in Colorado which is seemingly one of the driest places ever, so if you live in a humid place I would recommend following the oven directions or if you wait until to the day of to start this project (which I so often do).
And here the oven directions are:
Preheat the oven to 300. Spread the cubes on a baking sheet in one layer. Place in the oven and reduce the temperature to the lowest setting, 180-200. Check these guys once an hour or so. The goal is to dry them out. Not dry on the outside and moist in the inside rather dried through as much as possible.
The rest of the recipe is much more simple:
Place a large sauté pan or saucepan over medium heat, actually just in between medium & medium-high heat is ideal. Add the butter and oil. Once melted and hot, add in the celery and onions, sauté, tossing frequently until they are wilted and just getting a touch of golden color. This will be about 8-12 minutes. Add in the chopped apple and saute for 3-5 more minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the dried fruit with 1-2 cups of the broth. Allow it to sit and absorb into the fruit- rehydrating them a tad bit. When the celery and onions are ready, add the fruit and broth to the pan, bring up to a simmer and simmer for 4-6 minutes.
If your saucepan is large enough you can add the cubes of bread to the pan- if not transfer to a large bowl. Toss the bread cubes with the veggies & dried fruit. Once well tossed add a few more splashes of broth until it is to your desired moistness. Toss in the nuts and fresh herbs. Combine well.
If you want to fill your bird with it- go for it. Just remember it will increase your turkey roasting time. Otherwise place it in a baking dish, cover with foil and bake alongside the turkey for the final 30-45 minutes.
I was a bit wordy in the directions- if you want to keep it simple, this recipe is actually easy-peesy, here you go:
1. Dry out the bread cubes
2. Sauté the onions, celery & apples, until tender
3. Soak the dried fruit in some of the chicken broth
4. Combine cooked stuff with bread cubes
5. Add more broth until moist enough.
6. Add in the nuts & herbs
7. Bake in the turkey or next to the turkey in casserole dish covered in foil
Happy Turkey Day!!!