This stuffing skips all the usual ingredients and steps. No sausage-browning, onion and celery–sautéeing, nut-toasting, or dried fruit–chopping. Just bread, lots of brown butter, and fresh sage, bound together with vegetable stock and eggs. You can call it minimalist, or even simplest. I’ll just call it my new favorite. —Emma Laperruque
There are two ways to get perfectly stale bread: 1) Spread the cubes out on a rimmed sheet pan and let sit, uncovered, at room temperature for 12ish hours until dried out. Or, because I never remember to do that, 2) Spread out on a sheet pan and toast in a 250°F oven for about 30 minutes minutes until dried out.
Heat the oven to 425°F. Butter a 13x9-inch baking dish.
Add the sage to a very large, heat-proof mixing bowl. This is where you’ll be tossing the stuffing.
Brown the butter: Add the butter to a large skillet and set on the stove over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring gently and occasionally, until it browns and smells very nutty—8 to 10 minutes. (If possible, don’t use cast iron, which makes it harder to discern the butter’s color.) What’s happening here is: The milk solids are separating, falling to the bottom of the pan, and toasting. That’s why, after the butter foam subsides, you’ll start seeing lots of brown spots. They go from barely there to golden to chocolatey to burnt quickly, so don’t walk away from the stove. The goal is to get them as dark as possible, for the deepest flavor. As soon as you’re scared they’re about to burn, pour the brown butter on top of the sage. It should hiss and make a big fuss.
Add a splash of vegetable stock to the emptied skillet and use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape up the remaining browned butter bits. Add that to the bowl with the sage and brown butter. Now add the rest of the vegetable stock, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine. Add the eggs, break the yolks with a spoon, and stir to combine. Add the dried-out bread. Toss until completely coated. (The bread should be saturated, but not soaking. If it seems dry, add a little more stock.)
Transfer the stuffing mixture to the buttered baking dish and smooth out so it fills the dish evenly. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the top is deeply golden brown. It’ll be bubbling a bit when it comes out—that’s good.
Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.