Ultimate Chestnut Stuffing
Whether you call it stuffing or dressing, this dish, with chestnuts, ground pork, and sage, is guaranteed to be the most delicious thing on any table.
- 1 loaf hearty white bread approximately 1 lb
- 1 quart turkey or chicken stock preferably homemade, though high quality store-bought is fine.
- 1 lb peeled chestnuts (see note below)
- 8 tbsp butter
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 medium onion
- 3 stalks celery
- 12 sage leaves
- 2 tsp salt omit if you are using store bought broth.
- 2 large eggs
Heat oven to 275°.Cut bread into roughly 1" cubes, then lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven, turning regularly, until the cubes are completely dry but not browned. (A little is fine, but you're going for dry, not toasted.) This will take about 20-30 minutes, but it will vary depending on the bread you're using. Put dried bread cubes in a large mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, put the peeled chestnuts into a small pot and add half the turkey broth, then start cooking them at a low simmer. Let them cook, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the rest of the stuffing.
Heat oven to 350°.Dice onion and celery. Melt butter in a large skillet, then add celery, onion, ground pork, and salt. (Omit the salt if using store-bought brother - see note!) Sauté until the onion is translucent, the ground pork is cooked, and any excess liquid has evaporated. Mince sage leaves and add them, then remove from heat. Add sautéed pork and vegetables to the bread cubes and mix thoroughly, then add the chestnuts and the broth they've been cooking in and mix. Begin adding the other half of the broth at a leisurely pace to let the bread absorb it. Continue until you are confident all of the bread is soft, then add a splash more - far better to add too much broth than too little. You might have a little broth left over, but it won't be much.Lightly beat eggs, then incorporate them.
Spread in a 9" x 13" baking dish or two 9" pie dishes. Bake for 45 minutes.
•DO NOT ADD SALT IF USING STORE-BOUGHT BROTH! If you do, the result will be overly salted stuffing.
•DO NOT PUT INSIDE A TURKEY! Despite the name, all right-thinking people now agree that stuffing should be baked separately from the bird.
•If you feel inspired, it's absolutely fine to use fresh chestnuts and peel them yourself. The result will even be approximately 3% tastier than using prepackaged peeled chestnuts. But be warned - you are adding between 30 and 90 minutes to the prep time if you go this route, depending on how hard the fresh chestnuts are to peel.
•In my opinion, making turkey stock from scratch is a better use of your time than peeling chestnuts. There's simply no comparison between even good store-bought broth and homemade.
•This stuffing stores and reheats beautifully. Feel free to make it a day or two ahead of time, then just reheat it on Thanksgiving day.
•This recipe doubles well, and it makes delicious leftovers.
•If you're gluten free, use Schar white bread. I've used it with excellent results.