This is the one thing that I have to make every year without question; Mike would just not stand for a Thanksgiving meal without his favorite stuffing. I’ve made this the past 4 years, and it always gets rave reviews. The combination of bacon, apples, sage and caramelized onions is just awesome, but it doesn’t have to be limited to Thanksgiving. It would go great with a pork roast or roasted chicken too.
The onions are caramelized in the bacon drippings until they are super soft and sweet, then tossed with the diced apple to soften.
The stuffing or dressing can be refrigerated overnight and then used to stuff whatever meat you plan to stuff, or baked in a casserole dish (which I prefer).
I always bake this in a casserole dish, as I don’t like stuffing my turkey with bread stuffing, and everyone in my family likes the crispy top. Many would call this dressing, since it doesn’t actually get stuffed into the bird, but I wanted to keep the original recipe tittle.
Bread Stuffing with Bacon, Apples, Sage and Caramelized OnionsAdapted from The New Best Recipe You will want to start the bread drying process 1 day in advance, or do the cheater method listed below. I usually do a mix of both depending on how quickly my bread is drying. You do want to be sure and dry the bread out very well, so it can soak up all the flavors that you will be adding in. For the bacon, I really like to use a smoked bacon for additional flavor. 1 pound of good quality bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch strips 6 medium onions, sliced thin (about 7 cups) 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 baking apples, peeled cored and cut into a 1/2 inch dice 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped 3 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, cut into thin strips 3/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 12 cups dried french or italian bread (from one, 1 pound loaf) 1 cup homemade stock or low sodium chicken broth 3 large eggs lightly beaten For Baking in a casserole dish: 1 tablespoon of butter for dotting 1/2 cup homemade stock or low sodium chicken broth
To dry bread for the stuffing, cut into a 1/2 inch cube and lay cubes out in a single layer on a cookie sheet(s) to dry overnight. Bread can also be fast dried in a 225 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes. I always use a 1 pound loaf of good quality italian bread, and don’t typically measure the 12 cups out.
In a large skillet or Dutch oven cook bacon over medium heat until browned and crisp; this should take around 12 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set on a plate lined with paper towel to drain. Reserve 3 tablespoons of bacon dripping to sauté the onions and discard or save the remainder for another use.
Increase the heat to medium high and add onions and salt. Cook onions until golden brown and caramelized, making sure to stir the onions and scrape down the pan occasionally to prevent scorching. This should take about 20 minutes. If the onions start to get really dry, you can add a little olive oil to help them along. After 20 minutes, reduce the heat to medium and stir more frequently until the onions are deep golden brown in color; about 5 minutes. Add in the apples; cook an additional 5 minutes. Remove onions and apples from pan into a large bowl.
To the onions and apples add reserved bacon, parsley, sage, salt and pepper. Stir. Add in bread cubes. In a small bowl whisk 1 cup of stock or broth and eggs. Add to stuffing mixture and gently stir to evenly distribute ingredients. Set aside.
Generously butter a 9×13 casserole dish or any decorative baking dish you have that will accommodate all of the stuffing, and add stuffing. At this point, the stuffing can be wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to one day.
To bake, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Dot stuffing with tablespoon of butter all over, and drizzle remaining 1/2 cup of stock on top. Cover baking dish with foil, and bake for 20-25 minutes; remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.
Note: This stuffing is very forgiving when baking; if I have other items that need to go into the oven at lower temperatures at the same time, I will bake this along with them and then quickly broil or crank the heat up to crisp the top of the stuffing at the last-minute.