Stuffing yourself with holiday dishes is a custom no matter where you are in this world, and no matter what the holiday.
Stuffing is a tradition.
Stuffing is a tradition.
But no more so than during Thanksgiving and Christmas, when everyone is stuffing themselves with stuffing.
Holiday stuffing is generally a mix of bread crumbs, celery, onion, spices & herbs, stuffed into a turkey and then baked to allow all the flavors and juices to combine. Originally a side dish, stuffing has now moved more to the center of the holiday table, and sometimes even replacing the cooked bird all together - a more common practice on a vegetarian holiday table, but even with us meat-eaters too.
Because of the popularity of the dish, how easy it is to make without having to stuff and cook a turkey (which, by the way, costs an arm and a leg over here in Malaysia), and the simplicity of experimenting with all sorts of ingredients including adding many types of meats, stuffing has rightfully earned its place as a main dish on the table.
Stuffing is the ultimate warm, heavy, comfort food. I always find myself going back for a second portion, and third, until my stomach finally surrenders.
Just as fun as eating the stuffing, is crafting the homemade dish. No two homemade stuffings are the same since it is about improvisation based on what vegetables, fruits, nuts, spices, herbs, and meats you have around the kitchen that day.
Leftover cranberries and pistachios – from when I made my Christmas brownies – started my stuffing recipe out this year. Then I added the standard bread cubes, onion, and celery; apples for a sweet crunch; rosemary and thyme for that amazing aroma; allspice for a slight Christmas spice kick; and shreds of bacon because, well, why not.
No turkey for Christmas? I can survive on stuffing…
Homemade Cranberry Stuffing Recipe by Season with Spice
What you'll need:
10 - 12 slices of bread, cut into small cubes (about 6 cups). You can use any mix of breads: white, French bread, corn bread, whole grain, etc.
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 medium size onion - chopped
3 celery stalks - finely chopped (use the leaves too)
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves - chopped (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
1 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 red apple – chopped (leave peel on)
2 cups chicken broth or turkey broth (preferably homemade)
2 eggs - lightly beaten
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
A handful of chopped pistachios or walnuts
4 slices bacon - chopped into small pieces
1. Preheat oven to 275F. Spread bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake until evenly toasted, tossing it a few times. Should take around 45 minutes. Transfer toasted bread cubes to a large bowl.
2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once heated, add butter. When melted, add onions and garlic, and cook over medium heat until lightly browned. Add the celery and one tablespoon of broth, and cook for about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low, and add in allspice, rosemary and thyme, and cook until the vegetables are softened.
3. Transfer the cooked vegetable mixture into the large bowl with the toasted bread. Add in cranberries and chopped apples. Pour the broth in, and mix well to coat all bread cubes. Add in eggs and toss until evenly moistened. Season with salt and black pepper.
4. Transfer stuffing mixture to a lightly buttered baking dish and cover with foil. Bake at 325F for around 40 minutes.
5. While the stuffing is baking, cook the bacon pieces in the skillet until evenly browned. Set aside.
6. After around 40 minutes of baking, remove the foil cover and broil for a few minutes until top of stuffing turns brown and crispy. Remove from oven and top with the bacon pieces before serving.
1. You can toast the bread the night before. The toast will keep well in an airtight container in a cool place.
2. If you prefer extra-moist stuffing, add more broth or water.
3. For a vegetarian version, just replace the bacon with mushrooms, and the chicken broth with vegetable broth.