Wednesday, November 17, 2010

38 Days Until Christmas.....The Tale of Two Stuffings

Stuffing is one of those things that everyone seems to have a preference for…..dry, moist, sausage, onion, cornbread, savory, apple, the list goes on and on. But my favorite stuffing is an Italian version that I simply can not wait to make every Thanksgiving. It is not the stuffing you find in a box. It is not a stuffing made from dried hard tiny croutons. This my friends is a grown up stuffing. One that I am sure will impress your guests and make you want to never go back to the stuffing in a box ever again. And the best part is, you do not need to be a gourmet to make it. The steps are simple yet the flavors are incredible.
My time saver tip in this recipe is I buy the onions, carrots and clery all diced up. My grocery store sells in the produce section a “soup starter” that I use for this. Sure it may cost a little more but the time I save is worth it, especially during the holidays. Plus, it seems whenever I buy celery, it turns to a limp mess before I use the whole stalk and I feel bad throwing it away.
My other tip is to not skimp on the bread or the real parmesean. These two things when used in combination can be life changing. If you only buy your parmesan in the green can, branch out this one time…..you will thank me.
I found this recipe while watching my favorite channel and it is from one of my favorite chef’s Giada De Laurentiis. She makes Italian cooking real for everyday cooks. Her dishes are never too complicated and are always full of garlic. This recipe calls for chestnuts. Not the kind you wrap in bacon. Rather the ones that you find toasting on street corners in New York. I opt to leave the chestunts out and I don’t miss them one bit. If you need to have a crunchy bite you could add pecans or walnuts I suppose.
Enjoy!

Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Pancetta

Ingredients
•6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter

•8 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice

•2 large onions, finely chopped

•2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

•3 celery stalks, finely chopped

•2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves

•3 garlic cloves, chopped

•2 (7.4-ounce) jars roasted peeled whole chestnuts, coarsely broken

•1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

•1 pound day-old ciabatta bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

•2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

•1 cup (or more) canned low-salt chicken broth

•Salt and freshly ground black pepper
•2 large eggs, beaten to blend

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter a 15 by 10 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until crisp and golden, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a large bowl. Melt the remaining butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, rosemary, and garlic. Saute until the onions are very tender, about 12 minutes. Gently stir in the chestnuts and parsley. Transfer the onion mixture to the large bowl with the pancetta. Add the bread and Parmesan and toss to coat. Add enough broth to the stuffing mixture to moisten. Season the stuffing, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mix in the eggs.

Transfer the stuffing to the prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down, and bake until the stuffing is heated through, about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the top is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer.



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