My favourite way to cook turkey stuffing is outside of the bird – hence “unstuffed”. Why? Mostly for food safety – in order for the dressing to reach a safe temperature (remember, raw turkey juices have been dripping into it as it roasts), you can’t help but overcook the breast meat, it simply takes too long. Baked in a pan, you can be sure you’re not going to send anyone home with food poisoning, and you can take the bird out of the oven before it’s cardboard. Two very compelling reasons, no?
The single downside is that because you don’t have the fat and juices dripping into it as it cooks, “unstuffed” stuffing isn’t usually as moist and rich. My solution is to use tender focaccia bread in place of the typical white loaf – it lends the perfect richness and flavour.
Storebought breads and broths will have varying amounts of sodium, which is why I call for the seasoning to be added and adjusted before adding the eggs. I started with a lesser amount of salt, so you can taste the stuffing and add more as needed until it tastes rich and savoury. (If it’s “flat”, it still needs a bit more.)
I love the addition of apples to turkey stuffing – I find they add a wonderful sweetness and freshness. Feel free to add or substitute fresh cranberries, and/or a big handful of toasted walnuts.
"Unstuffed" Herb and Apple Turkey Stuffing
- 2 lbs focaccia bread cubed*
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter plus more to grease dish if not using parchment
- 2 medium onions finely chopped
- 2 large ribs celery finely chopped
- 2 apples peeled, cored, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp dried sage or 3 tbsp minced fresh
- 2 tsp dried thyme or 2 tbsp minced fresh
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
- 1 quart/litre homemade chicken broth or low-sodium storebought
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt 1/4 tsp table salt, or to taste
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper or to taste
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Melt butter over medium heat in a large stockpot. Add onions, celery and apples; cook until soft, about 10 minutes, reducing heat if browning occurs. Stir in bread, herbs, chicken stock, parsley, salt and pepper. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if needed. Stir in eggs.
- Transfer stuffing to a buttered or parchment-lined 9x13" baking dish. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes, or until stuffing is golden on top and set in the middle.