Jeff and I like to joke about how horrendous our college and post-college eating habits were. When I mentioned that I was preparing the stuffing for Thanksgiving this year, he was like, “Back in the day, I used to make Stovetop Stuffing for dinner!” and I was like “Me too! With instant mashed potatoes! Carbs with a side of carbs! FIST BUMP!” We were so classy.
Homemade stuffing prepared from scratch takes a bit of time, but it’s so much better than anything from a box. The great thing about this recipe is that it can be cooked in stages, which is especially helpful if you’re in charge of making several dishes. The onions can be caramelized 48 hours in advance. The stuffing is baked twice, first covered and then uncovered. You can do the first stage of baking the day before, and then finish cooking just before it’s time to serve the meal (or before transporting to a new location for reheating, if necessary).
One important note: caramelized onions should be dark brown, bitter and not very sweet. If you stop the caramelization process too soon, this stuffing will be too sweet, especially because apples are also an included. Have you ever ordered French onion soup at a restaurant and found it to be oddly sugary and unbalanced? That’s what happened.
I’ve used tart Granny Smith apples, but they still add some sweetness to the stuffing. If you prefer a more traditional flavor, you can use 1 apple instead of 2 or omit them completely.
- 1 pound day old baguette, diced into 1-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 3 large yellow onions, sliced into half moons (approximately 8-9 cups)
- 6 ounces (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
- 1½ cups thinly sliced celery (approximately 2-3 ribs)
- 2 Granny Smith apples (3-4 cups), peeled, cored and chopped small
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1¼ teaspoons ground black pepper
- 2½ cups chicken or vegetable stock (preferably homemade), divided
- 2 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the bread on a large baking sheet and toast, stirring periodically, until dried out and crisp, approximately 20 minutes. Alternately, the cubed bread can be left in a large bowl overnight to dry out. Allow to cool and then transfer to a large bowl.
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Keep a liquid measuring cup full of water nearby. Add the onions and a pinch of salt to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to brown. Turn up the heat to medium and continue caramelizing the onions. As a glaze develops on the bottom of the pan, add a few tablespoons of water and scrape up the brown bits, incorporating them into the onions. The heat will cause the water to evaporate. Repeat this process for approximately 25-30 minutes, keeping a close eye on the onions to make sure they don't burn. When the onions have turned a dark brown color and taste more bitter than sweet, remove from the pan and set aside. The onions should be reduced down to approximately 2 cups.
- Add the butter to the same pan over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted, add the celery and apples, stirring to coat with the butter. Cook for approximately 10-15 minutes, stirring periodically, until the ingredients are tender and slightly caramelized.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13 pan with softened, unsalted butter or baking spray.
- Add the caramelized onions and the celery apple mixture to the bread, tossing to combine (clean hands are the best tool for the job). Add in 1¼ cups stock, the parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Toss the ingredients together until evenly combined.
- Whisk together the remaining 1¼ cups stock with the two eggs. Add to the bread mixture and fold everything together. Gently press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan and cover securely with aluminum foil. Bake for 40 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. After removing from the oven, uncover and cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight).
- Remove the foil and bake uncovered for an additional 40-45 minutes, until the top is browned. (Add an additional 10-15 minutes if chilled).
If you're comfortable multi-tasking in the kitchen, save time by using separate pots to cook the caramelized onions and celery/apple mixture at the same time.
Adapted from Epicurious.