Store-bought peeled and cooked chestnuts work well in this recipe, but they aren’t quite as sweet and delicious as fresh.
I used an 8 x 12-inch baking dish. For more golden crust and less fluffy stuffing underneath, use a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or larger. You can even bake it in a sheet pan if you are crazy about the crispy top.
- For a vegetarian version: replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock and leave out the bacon. Add two tablespoons of butter or olive oil for sauteing the onion, celery and sage.
- For a dairy-free version: replace the butter with olive oil and the milk with either unsweetened nut milk, additional stock or water.
- For a gluten-free version: replace the bread with either gluten-free bread or 6 cups of cooked and cooled quinoa.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees with one rack in the bottom of the oven and one in the middle. Butter a baking dish and a piece of foil large enough to cover it and set both aside.
Spread the cubed bread out on a rimmed sheet pan and cook, stirring once or twice, until completely dry, 10-15 minutes. Transfer the bread to a large mixing bowl along with the currants and set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat the chestnuts with the milk, a pinch of salt, a few grindings of black pepper and the thyme. Bring to a bare simmer and cook, covered, stirring occasionally until the chestnuts are very tender but not falling apart, about 40 minutes. If your chestnuts soak up a lot of the milk, add a bit more milk or water. If you are using store-bought, pre-cooked chestnuts, you will need to reduce the cook time. Drain the chestnuts, reserving the milk they were cooked in. When the chestnuts have cooled a bit, roughly chop them and add them to the bowl with the bread.
Bring a medium saucepan of generously salted water to the boil. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook until just tender, 5- 7 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a parchment-lined sheet pan. Sprinkle the Brussels sprouts with salt, drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat. Roast on the bottom rack of the oven until soft and the edges are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Add the sprouts to the bowl with the bread and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the bowl with the bread. Add the onion, celery and sage to the pan with the rendered bacon fat. Season with a generous pinch salt and pepper and saute until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the sautéed vegetables to the bowl with the bread. Deglaze the pan with the bourbon. Scrape up any brown bits from the pan and add to the bowl with the bread and sautéed vegetables.
In a medium bowl, combine the cooled milk from the chestnuts, 2 cups of the stock, the eggs, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Whisk to combine.
Pour the stock and egg mixture over the bread mixture and stir gently to combine. Let the stuffing rest for a few minutes then check to see if the bread looks dry. If so, add more stock, ¼ cup at a time (you may not use it all), until the bread is very moist; you will want to see the stock mixture pooling in the bottom of the bowl.
Transfer the stuffing to your prepared baking dish. Bake on the middle rack, covered with buttered foil for 30 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees, remove the foil and continue to cook until the top of the stuffing is golden brown, about 15 minutes longer. Rest for 10-20 minutes before serving.