HOWARD HANNA | The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange
By JILL WENDHOLT SILVA
The Kansas City Star
What were you going for with this recipe? “This is a pretty straightforward dressing that I think will resonate with most readers’ childhood memories of Thanksgiving. There is something magical about the smell of aromatic vegetables, sage, stock and butter that really defines Thanksgiving dinner to me, and I think the inclusion of some bacon, cornbread and just a touch of spice gives this dressing a familiar Midwestern feel.”
Did you cook the stuffing inside the bird? “I grew up with stuffing cooked inside the bird, but for ease (and food safety concerns) most people do it on the side now, and that’s why I call it dressing, not stuffing. As long as you capture all of the pan drippings and rendered fat from your roast turkey to make a nice gravy, and then pour that gravy over the dressing, you would never know it wasn’t cooked in the bird.”
How to shave time off this recipe: If you don’t want to make your own cornbread, buy a mix or prepared cornbread at the grocery store.
Don’t be afraid of the chiffonade : It’s just a fancy name for stacking leaves on one top of the other, rolling lengthwise and slicing into thin threads.
Makes 16 to 20 servings
2 pounds Italian or French bread, crust on, large dice
24 tablespoons (3 sticks) unsalted butter (divided)
2 strips bacon, chopped
4 cups small peeled and diced onions
2 cups small diced celery
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon Aleppo pepper (look for it at specialty stores such as Penzey’s or Dean & Deluca. If you can’t find Aleppo, crushed red pepper is fine)
4 apples, cored and chopped into medium dice
1 pound cornbread, large dice
4 1/2 cups (36 ounces) turkey stock (if you have any. If not, low-sodium chicken stock works)
10 large sage leaves, rolled and cut into chiffonade
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon thyme leaves, plucked from the stem
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish and another 9-by-9-inch casserole or baking pan.
Spread Italian or French bread out on a sheet pan, then dry it in the oven for a couple of minutes. It should be nice and dry, but not toasted. Set aside.
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium flame, add about a tablespoon of the butter and the bacon and cook, stirring frequently until the bacon has rendered its fat but is not brown or crispy. Add the onions and celery and reduce the heat a little. Cook, stirring frequently until the veg is tender — about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add the apples and cook until tender but still intact — not mushy. Add bread and cornbread, remaining butter, stock and herbs. Remove from the heat, mix and season well with salt and pepper. It may seem too wet at first, but as you mix, the bread will continue to soak up the stock and butter. Also, the bread is in a large dice, so that some of both types remain intact, but some can crumble and meld together. Transfer to casserole dishes. All of this can be done the day before Thanksgiving, or hours before dinner.
When you’re almost ready to serve, bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until brown and a bit crunchy on the edges and warmed through in the center.
Per serving, based on 16: 419 calories (47 percent from fat), 22 grams total fat (12 grams saturated), 59 milligrams cholesterol, 47 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams protein, 558 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber.