Stuffing is one of my favorite comfort foods. When I was a child I didn't appreciate it but I didn't like pumpkin pie either. Fortunately, my tastes have developed to include a sincere appreciation of both.
4 slices center cut bacon
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup diced onion
3/4 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced fuji apple (with peel)
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage (or 2 teaspoons rubbed sage)
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley, optional
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, opional
1/4 cup chopped pecans or 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, optional
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 cups cubed sourdough bread (about 1 artisan loaf broken into 3/4 inch pieces)
Place a large saute pan over medium high heat. Cut bacon into hot pan with kitchen shears by holding all 4 slices in a one layer above pan and then cutting 1/4 inch strips from one end to the other, allowing them to fall into the pan. Stir to cook evenly. When bacon begins to brown, add butter and stir to melt. Stir in onion and celery. Saute for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add apple and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in herbs, nuts (if using) salt and pepper. Cook 2 more minutes. Place sourdough cubes in a large bowl. Pour vegetable mixture onto bread and toss thoroughly. Cook in the bird by stuffing cavities with stuffing and baking as desired. Or cook separately: choose a casserole dish that has a tight fitting lid. Butter the dish and place stuffing into it. Sprinkle 1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken stock (depending on the dryness of the bread) over stuffing. Cover tightly and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. Uncovering the dish for the last 5 minutes or so will allow the top layer of stuffing to crisp up a bit.
Hints: If you stuff the bird, don't pack it in tightly and baste the stuffing when you baste the meat. You can add more melted butter if the mixture seems very dry prior to baking. Adjust the amount of herbs to suit your tastes. Some fresh sage can be very potent so be careful not to add too much as the flavor will intensify with cooking. Sage alone is wonderful, the parsley and rosemary are nice to add an overtone but not necessary. I really like the nuts but some people in my family don't care for them at all so I rarely get to use them. Use stuffing all through the winter, not just for holiday meals. It is a great side with chicken breasts or turkey meat loaf or with a pork loin roast.
I love Thanksgiving! What a great holiday -- a time to spend with most of my favorite people in the world and eat fabulous comfort food. We are so blessed and it is a perfect time to count our blessings. Here's wishing you and yours a grand holiday!