Nothing says the holidays like things you’d never eat any other time of the year. It’s a phenomenon that intrigues me nearly as much as the music we’d never listen to if it weren’t Christmas time. Which begs the questions of what the Trans Siberian Orchestra does during the other 51 weeks. I’m guessing that they’re Trans-Siberian bus drivers, schoolteachers and patent clerks. During this short period of relevance for both holiday meals and performers that have 95% of the year to rehearse, we’re offering our favorite, homemade holiday side dishes which include this rather fabulous sourdough stuffing recipe. Its a savory superstar with fresh parsley, sage and thyme (I think I just wrote a Simon and Garfunkel song), fresh celery, and onion. If you happen to live in the Seattle area, make the trek to Hoffman’s Fine Pastries for fresh baked sourdough bread. Say hello to Angie and ask her to pick up some milk on her way home….we’re running low and we have cookies all over the place.
This sourdough stuffing recipe is a perfect partner for beef or poultry. It makes enough for 10-12 adults, can be frozen in an airtight bag for two months or kept fresh in the refrigerator (in an airtight container) for three days.
Time: It sounds like a lot of time to make this, but most of it’s oven time. The slicing, chopping, cooking and mixing add up to 30 minutes or so, and the total bake time, if you include drying the bread is 1 hour and 5 minutes. If you’re going to start from fresh bread (and I really recommend it), make sure and leave a day to let the bread completely dry out.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees (f)/ 205 degrees (c) and spray a 10 x 15″ baking dish with non-stick olive oil.
Soundtrack: Crowded House, Album-Crowded House. This was the second generation of the New Zeeland rock band, Split Enz, basically the same band without one of the Finn brothers. This album was one of the best basic rock albums from the 80′s though it was likely labeled as alternative rock at the time. The melodies are infectious, the lyrics are smart and, if you listen real closely with headphones, there are several tracks wehre the backup vocals are just the band screaming in a recording booth…sounds ridiculous but it came out beautifully. You’re likely most familiar with the single Don’t Dream Its Over, but listen to the whole thing through…it’s full of gems including the eerily haunting Hole In The River.
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 celery ribs, chopped fine
1 organic, white onion, minced
1/3 Cup fresh organic parsley, minced
1 tsp. fresh organic sage, minced
1 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
2 Lbs sourdough bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and dried (see directions)
3 Cups organic, low sodium chicken broth
3 large organic, free range eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
Sourdough Bread crumbs:
2 standard sized (12′-ish) loafs of artisan sourdough bread will give you just about the right amount of stuffing. You can substitue pre-dried bread bits just as well. To dry your own, cut into the bread into approximately 1/2″ square pieces and place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet for ten minutes in an oven set to 350 degrees (c)/ 180 degrees (f), then remove them (still on the cookie sheet) to a wire rack to cool completely. Let them sit at rom temperature overnight to dry. There should be no moisture in the bread bits and they should not “squish” (it’s a real word, look it up) when you pinch them.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add the celery and onions and cook until softened and the slightly see through. About 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley, sage, thyme and cook until fragrant. About 1 minute. Transfer the contents of the skillet to a large mixing bowl bowl. Add the dried, cooled bread, broth, eggs, salt, and pepper to the vegetables and toss to combine. Turn the mixture into a buttered 10 x 15-inch baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until golden, about 30 minutes longer. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.