A Grape and Goat Cheese Stuffing Even Stuffing Haters will Love

November  8, 2015

Unlike certain mushy food aficionados, I do not like to eat mush. I don't understand the allure: the best bites of cereal in milk are the first crunchy ones, not the final sodden ones; bread belongs beside your soup bowl, not in it; and soggy bread does not a salad make. 

Bread puddings, stratas, and stuffings are a little better: After being soggified (it’s a word), they’re partially firmed back up from cooking. But the only acceptable time to make these dishes is if your bread is so stale it might break a toe if dropped; intentionally drying out perfectly good bread to make these recipes is inexcusable. 

Stale Bread

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I am not a picky eater (inasmuch as a vegetarian can avoid being one), so I will eat all of these dishes when you serve them to me. But I will do so reluctantly while I question whether we are truly destined to be friends (I can be a little dramatic at times).

Thus, it should come as no surprise that Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday. A meal often centered around meat, food from a can, and mushy foods? No, thank you. Oh yes, I love the friends and family and togetherness bit, but I’ll pass on the green beans cooked to oblivion, the sweet potato casserole, and the celery-studded stuffing—or take the smallest socially-acceptable servings.

Layered Grapes and Bread with Chèvre and Balsamic

This year will be different though: I have found a stuffing for stuffing lovers and haters alike. Gingerroot’s Layered Grapes and Bread with Chèvre and Balsamic doesn’t use all that much liquid (yes, substituting vegetable broth for chicken stock works just fine) so the middle isn’t as squishy as some stuffings can be and there are plenty of crispy edges on top. Plus the mix of flavors is irresistable—I ate not one small serving, but three large ones. This dish now has a permanent place on my Thanksgiving menu; I bet it might on yours, too.

Layered Grapes and Bread with Chèvre and Balsamic by gingerroot

Serves 6 to 8 as a side

For the bread:

10 ounces day-old sourdough, cut into 1-inch cubes (8 to 9 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

For everything else:

2 large sweet onions (1 pound total)
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus extra for the dish
3 tablespoons port, divided
Kosher salt
1 pound organic seedless black grapes, de-stemmed and halved (about 4 cups), divided
1 1/2 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable broth

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
4 1/2 ounces chèvre
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

First photo by James Ransom, final photo by Linda Xiao

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • jpriddy
  • gingerroot
  • Nancy
  • Josh
  • Lindsay-Jean Hard
    Lindsay-Jean Hard
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


jpriddy December 8, 2017
I do not eat birds, but I make my dressing with chopped, fresh cranberries and butter and fresh herbs, plus onion, fennel, celery, homemade stock, and cubed bread.
gingerroot November 10, 2015
So happy this has found a place on your T-day table!! Thanks for giving it a try. ????
gingerroot November 10, 2015
Oops, I should have known, but emojis don't compute. Those ???? were a smiley face not 30 sec ago.
Lindsay-Jean H. November 10, 2015
Thank you for making me a stuffing convert! :)
Nancy November 9, 2015
Hey Josh, land of free speech, etc..., not to mention civility.
Hey Lindsay-Jean, have you ever heard of or tried baking your stuffing in muffin gives you many more crisp sections than does a standard rectangular pan (idea from Rachael Ray).
Lindsay-Jean H. November 9, 2015
Thanks Nancy! Our VP of Commerce does that, but I had forgotten about it, so this is a perfect reminder -- I'll have to give it a go myself.
Betsey November 10, 2015
I'm not sure what free speech has to do with this conversation.
Josh November 9, 2015
Stuffing hater?!?! So there such a thing? What kind of monster would hate stuffing?
Lindsay-Jean H. November 9, 2015
A monster like me!

I'm not alone though, in Home Cooking, Laurie Colwin wrote: "It was years before I could come out and say how much hated stuffing... Holiday after holiday I would push my portion around on my plate... It was clear that I was in opposition to a national tradition." She eventually found a stuffing she liked though, but then again, so did I!