This recipe is more like a savory bread pudding than a stuffing – and, in fact, we make this stuffing in large muffin pans for easy and elegant serving, which goes well with our grilled turkey under bricks (click HERE to see the recipe). You can easily adopt this recipe for using as an actual stuffing, but the bird will cook more evenly without a stuffing.
Makes 10 to 12 servings
- 1 large loaf Pullman or other firm white bread
- 1 pound mushrooms (oyster, crimini, or a combination)
- 1/3 pound pancetta, diced small
- 5 tablespoons butter, more for greasing muffin tins
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large chopped onion
- 1/4 cup minced shallots (about three)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 3 1/2 cups diced pears (about four or five firm, ripe varieties like Bartlett or Anjou)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1/4 cup minced chives
- 1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley
- 2 cups turkey stock (or high quality chicken stock)
- If you can, prepare the bread 2 to 3 days before making the stuffing. You can tear bread into small pieces (you should have about 16 cups) and leave it out to dry (loosely cover with a paper towel). Alternatively, put the bread into a roasting pan, and put into a 250 degree over for 20 to 30 minutes until dry. Set aside.
- Wipe mushrooms with a clean, damp towel. Trim tough ends. Slice some thickly, chop others. Set aside. Place pancetta in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook slowly until fat is rendered, about 7 minutes. Remove the pancetta to a plate, but keep the fat in the pan.
- Add 2 tablespoons butter to fat in pan and turn heat to medium high. Add onion and shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just soft.
- Add 3 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil to pan. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and quickly sauté until starting to brown. Remove and add to plate with pancetta.
- Add wine to pan and deglaze over medium high heat, cooking until wine reduces by about half. Pour remaining liquid over mushrooms. Wipe out pan and add remaining butter. Add pears and sugar and season with salt and pepper. Sauté pears, in batches if necessary, over medium high heat until they begin to brown slightly.
- In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and the cream together.
- In a large bowl or roasting pan, add sautéed ingredients to bread. Toss lightly to combine. Add herbs and toss again. Slowly pour the egg and cream combination over the bread mixture and toss. Slowly pour one cup stock over mixture and toss. Add more broth to make a very moist stuffing. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. If you are stuffing a brined turkey, remember that the bird will add a bit more salt.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter muffin tins and fill each with stuffing, pressing down so each cup is well filled. Top each with one tablespoon stock. Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes, until a golden crust forms on bottom. To serve, use a butter knife to remove each stuffing muffin and invert onto the plate.