An apple-brined turkey pairs perfectly with a stuffing with the same apple flavor.
In Advance: Store toasted bread cubes at room temperature for up to 1 day. Refrigerate the stuffing mixture for up to 6 hours prior to baking. Or bake the stuffing early in the day for 40 minutes and refrigerate. Later in the day, once the turkey is out of the oven, cover the stuffing with foil and finish baking for about 20 minutes, removing the foil for the last 5 minutes until the top is brown.
- About 1 tablespoon unsalted butter for the baking dish
- 12 cups unseasoned dry bread cubes *
- 8 ounces bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 Granny Smith apples (about 6 ounces each), peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 3 large stalks celery, chopped
- 2/3 cup minced parsley leaves
- 1 tablespoon minced sage leaves
- 1 tablespoon minced thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups turkey or chicken stock or broth (or additional as necessary)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with butter.
Place the bread in a very large bowl.
Over medium heat, fry the bacon until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to the bread in the bowl.
Remove all but 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings from the skillet, reserving the remaining drippings. Place the skillet over medium-high heat, add the onions and cook, about 5 minutes stirring frequently, until soft and lightly browned. Sprinkle the sugar over the onions and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the onions turn golden. Transfer the onions to the bread in the bowl.
Return the pan to medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of the reserved bacon drippings and swirl to coat the pan. Add the apples and celery and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, scraping up bits from the bottom of the pan, until softened. Add the parsley, sage, thyme, salt and a few grinds of pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add this mixture to the bread cubes and stir to combine. Add the stock or broth to the bowl, and mix well. Place the stuffing in the prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour, uncovered, until the top is lightly browned and crusty.
If you have room in your oven, bake the stuffing for the last hour while the turkey is roasting, checking it occasionally and adding more stock if the stuffing seems dry. Otherwise, bake it beforehand, refrigerate it and reheat it once the turkey is out, adding additional stock or broth if necessary.
NOTE: To make bread cubes, trim the crusts from a loaf of dense Italian bread. Cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes, spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 400 degree just until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool completely. You may also use day-old bread.
Adapted from "The Thanksgiving Table," by Diane Morgan (Chronicle, 2001).
Tested by The Washington Post.
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