What We Call Stuffing: Challah, Mushroom, and Celery

By • November 3, 2009 • 91 Comments


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Author Notes: Our holiday entertaining guest list includes a number of vegetarians. I make every effort to have many Thanksgiving standards in a vegetarian form. In this case, I use homemade challah, cut it into cubes, and then let the bread cubes sit out on the counter for a couple of days to get a little stale. I also use only mushroom stems in this stuffing, just as a matter of economy. The caps are sauteed in butter and dusted with cayenne, then set aside for mushroom gravy, another vegetarian option.MrsWheelbarrow

Food52 Review: No one would ever guess that this is a vegetarian stuffing, and why should it matter? It's rich yet light and teeming with fresh herbs -- a wonderful dish for everyone. Most memorable of all is its texture -- the challah soaks up the vegetable broth and melted butter and then puffs up in the oven, creating a stuffing with a thick, crisp top and fluffy, almost pudding-like interior. We baked it in a large cast-iron skillet because we didn't have right casserole dish. The stuffing didn't suffer a bit -- in fact, it looked like something out of Little House on the Prairie. - A&MA&M

Serves 12

  • 1 large loaf of challah or brioche
  • 2 cups celery, diced
  • 2 cups onion, diced
  • 2 cups cremini mushroom, diced
  • 8-10 sprigs thyme, chopped
  • 3 sprigs rosemary, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 3 cups vegetable stock, preferably homemade
  • 3 ounces butter
  • 4 ounces melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  1. Cut the challah into 1" cubes. Leave the cubes out on a parchment lined sheet pan on the counter to get stale, at least overnight, and preferably 2 days.
  2. Melt 3 oz. of butter in a large heavy saute pan. Saute the onions until wilted, add the herbs, celery and mushrooms and cook until just slightly cooked through.
  3. In a large bowl, combine bread cubes, vegetables, melted butter and vegetable stock, and salt and pepper. Test for seasoning and adjust.
  4. Press stuffing into a large buttered baking dish. Cover with buttered parchment, and then foil. At this point, the stuffing can be held for several hours, but should be at room temperature before baking.
  5. Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes, the last 10-15 minutes without the foil and parchment, to crisp the surface.

Tags: can be made ahead, comfort food, family, hearty, Holidays, stir fry, Vegetarian

Comments (91) Questions (2)

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4 months ago Tara

Made this over the weekend and while the flavor was great, the stuffing was really, really wet. I'm guessing my "large" loaf of brioche wasn't quite large enough so the bread:broth ratio was off. Will definitely try again with less broth!

Stringio

4 months ago Joe Deane

Robyn, I use olive oil with excellent results.

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4 months ago Robyn

Can I use olive oil or something other than butter?

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4 months ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Hi Robyn, I understand the desire to reduce the fats in this recipe, but the butter really makes it. Because there is no meat, sausage, oyster or bacon, the stuffing really requires the flavor of butter. Nevertheless, if you want to try it with all or part olive oil, give it a try and please let us know!

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5 months ago EmilyC

I made your dressing for the first time this year -- so, so good. I love how simple yet complex it is. And I love how generous you are with the butter -- really makes a difference in the taste! It's going to be my new go-to recipe for the holidays, so thank you!

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4 months ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Emily! This makes me very happy.

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4 months ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Emily! This makes me so happy! Especially now that we've met in person.

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5 months ago Debora Morgan

This is the second year I've been making your recipe and I LOVE it! The best stuffing I've ever had :) I always use shallots for the onions, portabellas for the mushrooms, and sometimes add panchetta. Thanks for sharing!

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5 months ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I'm thrilled! And love the substitutions and additions. This year, I rehydrated about 1/2 cup of dried porcini and added the liquid and the chopped mushrooms. It was terrific.

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5 months ago Gabbie Tanella

I made this stuffing for Thanksgiving yesterday and it was a huge hit! My family was skeptical (the typical yet uninspiring "Stovetop Stuffing" is the only stuffing they've known) but they loved it! I purchased two packaged challah rolls from Whole Foods and used 1.5 of it; I also used half the amount of stock (didn't have vegetable, but used homemade bone broth) and it was nothing short of excellent. While making it, I did notice that there was more butter included than I'm used to, but after I tasting it that idea escaped my mind. I would definitely make this again... maybe with a little less butter but we'll see ;) Thanks for such an awesome recipe; it made my family happy and that makes me happy!

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5 months ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I'm happy, too! I'm so glad you liked it.

Stringio

5 months ago Joe Deane

I used olive oil and light chicken stock and stuffed a 15lb bird. Worked very well. Also I used sage for my main herb.

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5 months ago RuthF

We loved it as well but I think it would also be delicious with a little less butter.

Stringio

5 months ago Joe Deane

I would put the dressing in the turkey without baking the dressing first. Is that correct?

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5 months ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Yes, uncooked stuffing goes inside the turkey.

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5 months ago Lani Turner

Can I cook this in a slow cooker (crockpot)? How would I need to change the recipe?

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5 months ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I'm not sure you would get the nice crispy topping --- I've never made stuffing in a crockpot!

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5 months ago allison williams

My local whole foods has challah loaves that are 15 oz each. This feels like very little bread (1 oz per person). I'm guessing I should use more challah, but not sure how to judge how much.. is there an amount of 'wetness' I should go for?

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5 months ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I make my own challah and each loaf is about 2 pounds, so plan on two of the WF challah for one recipe.

Stringio

5 months ago Joe Deane

Could you stuff a turkey with this if you wanted to?

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5 months ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I see no reason why not.

Stringio

5 months ago Christy Dunn

Do you use salted or unsalted butter? I'm really looking forward to making this for Thanksgiving this year! Thanks!

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5 months ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I always use unsalted butter.

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5 months ago Belle

Thank you for your response. One other question: Do you think I can make this a few days ahead of time and bake on the day of?

Stringio

5 months ago Cathy Barrow

I make all the components up to three days in advance then pull it together on Thanksgiving.

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5 months ago Rhonda35

As long as you aren't putting it in the turkey ahead of time, you're fine. You can assemble it, cover, store in fridge and bake off on Thanksgiving day. (Bring it to room temperature first if you want the timing in the recipe to be accurate.)

Stringio

5 months ago Joe Deane

I would put the dressing in the turkey without baking the dressing first. Is that correct?

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5 months ago Belle

Hi I am planning to make this for Thanksgiving. Can you tell me what you mean by 1 large loaf of challah? Our bakery has the large round and also the long braided. Which one of these should I buy and also should I have the baker slice it or do you mean cube the challah with its original thickness. Thank you.

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5 months ago Cathy Barrow

Either if those loaves should work well, but I would use the long braided for more crust. Get it sliced, then cube the slices... It's easier and saves a step!

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over 1 year ago Lorey21

I made this stuffing for our family Christmas dinner. I subbed portabella for the cremini mushrooms, but otherwise followed the recipe. It surpassed my expectations & was by far the best stuffing I've ever made.
Thank-you MrsWheelbarrow !

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over 1 year ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Thank you, Lorey21. I'm so glad you made and enjoyed the stuffing. We love it, too, and I'll admit to making small batches throughout the year. Happy New Year!

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over 1 year ago JadeTree

Thanksgiving success! This was tender, herbaceous and crisp on top. Yum. Did make some changes. To my surprise, our matriarch does not like mushrooms (?!) so omitted those and added toasted pecans (Southerners, here) and sautéed pears (about five smallish Boscs). It was delicious and very gracious about changes, as you say! Now, I do think I will make it with the mushrooms another day to give it more heft. The pears were meting and sweet and I recommend them, but I have to say that I want to make this completely savory next time, just because. Thank you!

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over 1 year ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I'm thrilled you liked the stuffing, and think the pear/pecan additions sound delicious!

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over 1 year ago sega10028

Hi -- I made this this weekend but it didn't puff up at all. I used brioche instead of challah (read online that they're similar), and dried the cubes for 4 days beforehand. I used about a loaf and a half (the loaves looked just like the braided challah loaves in the US). Used 3 cups of broth as directed, but when I added it, the bread became quite mushy. Any guess as to why it didn't puff? I'm wondering if I had too high a liquid-bread ratio. Besides that, the flavor was perfect. Just trying to figure out how to adjust it for the next time :)

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over 1 year ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

My guess is the brioche was not as large as a challah, so the ratio was off. You may need one and a half brioche? Or less broth?

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over 1 year ago Tara Offenberger

Do you think adding some TART apples would be a nice touch?

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over 1 year ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Hi Tara, I am not a fan of apples and mushrooms together, so I might do one or the other. But that's just me! This is a great stuffing that takes to adding, subtracting and multiplying ingredients.

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over 1 year ago ChocolateDiva

If you wanted to make ahead perhaps after the 45-55 minutes you could take it out of the oven and finish the final 10-15, which of course would be longer from the frig, the next day. What do you think??

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over 1 year ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Worth a try! It's a very forgiving stuffing. I chop the veg the day ahead and find that putting it together is very quick, so I've never bothered making it the day before