Thursday, November 5, 2009

110. Bread Stuffing with Bacon, Apples, Sage, and Caramelized Onions

Date Cooked: October 12, 2009
Page: 369
Rating: B+

I had pretty high hopes for this dish. I learned last year that I don’t like stuffing a turkey and I dislike the cooked stuffing that comes out afterwards. So this year I opted to cook all of the stuffing in a baking dish, which they recommend for any stuffing that doesn’t fit in the turkey, so I’ll pretend none fit in the turkey.

This recipe actually started two days before Thanksgiving when I had to start drying out the bread. I cut an entire loaf of French bread into slices and left them out overnight to dry. The next day I cut the slices into cubes and left them to dry overnight again. Thanksgiving morning the bread rocks were sufficiently dry. The whole point of drying out the bread is so that the dried bread can rehydrate with even more flavorful liquid when the stuffing cooks.

Unlike the chaotic mess of last thanksgiving, I planned ahead this year to reduce the last minute panic of trying to get all the dishes finished. So first thing in the morning I got started on the stuffing, so all it needed was some time in the oven closer to dinner. I began this recipe by cooking the bacon in my dutch oven. Any recipe starting with bacon is great. The smell is awesome and I always cook a little extra because I am guaranteed to sample a few cooked pieces, this was no exception. Once the bacon had finished cooking I put it aside and using a small amount of the bacon fat (draining the rest), I began to caramelize the chopped onions. This is a technique I still need to work on. Maybe it is my patience that I need to work on as it always seems to take forever to get a nice golden brown color without burning them. Once the onions were almost done I threw in the chopped apples for a few minutes before removing everything from the heat.

In a large bowl I mixed the onions, apples, bacon, stale bread, sage and some stock. This was thoroughly mixed and then transferred to a 9x13 baking dish that had been buttered. On top of the mixture I placed several pats of butter and then pour some more stock. Covered in foil it sat until ready to cook before dinner. About an hour before dinner was to be served, the stuffing was baked for 25 minutes before the foil was removed and then baked for an additional 30 minutes.

Rating: B+. I enjoyed this stuffing. The flavors were great and the bread was definitely not dried out. My biggest complaint though, which is more to do with my execution of the dish than the recipe itself, is that the bread needed to be cut into smaller pieces. The bread pieces were a little too large in comparison with the rest of the ingredients. Sometimes it felt like eating a soggy (but flavorful) piece of bread, and not a mouthful of stuffing.

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