Chestnut Stuffing with Fennel
- ACTIVE: 1 HR
- TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 50 MIN
- SERVINGS: 12
When Suzanne Goin was a child, making stuffing for the holidays was one of her first forays into cooking. "My mom always used store-bought crumbs, and it became my job to doctor them up," says Goin. "I'd just raid the spice cabinet and the first batches were a little crazy. But I figured out what I liked best." This chestnut-laced stuffing with pancetta and fennel is adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques. The crispy olive oil-soaked bread cubes on top are especially delectable.
- 1 1/2 pounds country bread, crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds
- 4 ounces pancetta, sliced 1/8 inch thick and diced
- 1 small rosemary sprig
- 1 dried chile de árbol or other dried red chile, stemmed and broken in half
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 small fennel bulb, halved lengthwise and finely diced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 1/4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- One 10-ounce vacuum-packed jar of chestnuts, very coarsely crumbled
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Preheat the oven to 400°. On a baking sheet, toss the bread with 1/2 cup of the olive oil. Spread the bread in a single layer and toast in the oven for 15 minutes, stirring once, until golden brown. Let the croutons cool, then transfer to a bowl. Leave the oven on.
- In a small skillet, toast the fennel seeds over moderate heat until fragrant and lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a mortar or spice grinder; coarsely grind.
- In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook over high heat, stirring, until crisp, about 3 minutes. Lower the heat to moderate, add the rosemary and chile and cook for 1 minute. Add the onion, fennel, fennel seeds and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are lightly caramelized, about 8 minutes; discard the rosemary and chile. Stir in the lemon zest and add to the croutons.
- Set the skillet over high heat. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits. Boil until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Pour the hot stock mixture over the croutons and toss well.
- Wipe out the skillet. Add 3 tablespoons of the butter and the chestnuts and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the chestnuts to the stuffing, season with salt and pepper and let cool completely. Add the eggs and parsley and toss well.
- Transfer the stuffing to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and dot the stuffing with the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until crisp on top. Serve hot.
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