Seeking a stuffing with Italian ingredients (I have a deep affection for pancetta), I developed a concept. Then I Googled it and realized that Giada DeLaurentiis beat me to it. Isn't that the way! So, I adapted her recipe by adding an apple, sage, thyme, and a hint of cinnamon for a sweet, subtle kick and to balance the salty pancetta. I also substituted shallot for onion to complement the apple's sweetness. This flavorful stuffing is an excellent mate to Thanksgiving turkey, roasted chicken or even beef tenderloin. Feel free to ad lib on the bread -- sourdough or focaccia come to mind. —mariaraynal
pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice (freeze for 10-15 minutes before for easy slicing)
carrots, peeled and finely chopped
celery stalks, finely chopped
kosher salt, or to taste
chopped fresh rosemary
chopped fresh thyme
chopped fresh sage
cloves garlic, chopped
honeycrisp apple, diced (or apple of your choice)
wild mushrooms, finely chopped (I used baby bellas)
day-old ciabatta, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
(or more) chicken stock, preferably homemade
Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 15 x 10 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium flame.
Add the pancetta and saute about 10-12 minutes, until crisp. Transfer pancetta to large bowl with a slotted spoon.
Melt remaining butter in the skillet and add the shallot, carrots, celery, salt and pepper. Turn heat up to medium-high. After a few minutes, add the mushrooms, rosemary, thyme, sage and garlic.
Sprinkle cinnamon on the chopped apple and add to the pan. Saute until the shallots are tender, at least 12 minutes. Stir gently occasionally.
Transfer the onion mixture to bowl with pancetta, stir to incorporate.
Add the ciabatta and parmesan and toss. Pour in enough stock to lightly coat the bread, then mix in the eggs.
Combine thoroughly, then transfer stuffing to buttered dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down, then bake for about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake about 15 minutes, until stuffing is crisp and golden.
I'm a self-trained home cook and freelance food writer who enjoys cooking and eating seasonally and locally whenever possible. When I travel, visiting the farmers' markets, local groceries and specialty food shops is as important as the shopping, museums and restaurants. I love to immerse myself in cookbooks, then go into the kitchen and experiment; and writing about food and the chefs who cook it is my latest pursuit. By day, I'm an executive speechwriter and event planner.