I’m a very traditional stuffing kind of girl. Nate likes sausage in his stuffing. We made two last year so we could both be happy. This year, we’re not hosting our family for Thanksgiving, but we did celebrate the Saturday prior with our very good friends from Wisconsin.
I thought this would be a fantastic opportunity for us to branch out and try a new stuffing (or dressing as my grammie called it). Since our friends are not picky eaters whatsoever, I was excited to try something new. Maybe it would become our new favorite kind of stuffing…
The stuffing was good, but there were a few things I would change for the next time I make it. I used sea salt focaccia, which I think worked well, but onion would have given it a little more flavor (I couldn’t find any and didn’t have time to make my own). Also, the 1-inch dice was a little large for me, I would have cubed the bread in 1/2-inch pieces. Finally, the fennel and onion pieces were too large as well, so I would have diced instead of sliced them. So the only thing that really affected the flavor of the stuffing was not using the onion focaccia. Oh, and over toasting it. I followed the Food and Wine instructions to toast it for 30 minutes, at 375 degrees, stirring once halfway through, but it was far too much time. My bread did get a slightly over toasted (which wasn’t an issue for consistency, but for flavor), and that flavor translated into the stuffing. I altered the recipe below so the same mistake doesn’t happen to you.
I’ll be making this again in the future, and with the improvements, and I’ll post a picture then. With all the commotion, I didn’t get a chance to get a halfway decent picture – but enjoy of picture of us enjoying it 😉 And in case you’re wondering, yes, we did enjoy our Thanksgiving dinner in our pjs!
Fennel, Red Onion, and Focaccia Stuffing
Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
2 lbs plain or onion focaccia, cut into 1-inch dice (about 16 cups)
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
3 medium fennel bulbs, halved lengthwise, cored and sliced lengthwise 1/4-inch thick
2 red onions, halved and sliced lengthwise
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp chopped thyme
1 tsp fennel seeds
3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
kosher salt and ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread focaccia on a large rimmed baking sheet. Toast until dry and golden around the edges, about 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
2. In a large skillet, melt 2 tbsps of butter in the olive oil. Add the fennel and onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and fennel seeds and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Scrape the mixture into the bowl with the focaccia. Add stock and toss until bread is evenly moistened. Season with salt and pepper.
3. * See note. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with 1 tbsp of butter. Transfer stuffing mixture into the baking dish and top with remaining butter. Cover with foil, and bake until heated through, about 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 20 minutes longer, until the top is golden and crisp.
* If you are stuffing your turkey, now would be the time to stuff it and bake stuffing with turkey. Don’t forget to adjust your turkey cooking time if it’s stuffed (it’ll take longer).