This Vegetarian Thanksgiving Stuffing Has a Secret Ingredient
Stuffing (or dressing!) is a highly personal Thanksgiving dish. Some prefer cornbread, while others love sourdough; you might like a meaty stuffing, or want to keep it meat-free and baked outside the bird. If you’re in the latter camp, this episode of Mad Genius: Home Edition is for you—our culinary director-at-large, Justin Chapple, is preparing his rustic bread stuffing with Swiss chard and chestnuts. It’s vegetarian and packed with flavor, thanks to a boost from dried mushrooms. As he cooks, he also breaks down the difference between stuffing and dressing (he grew up calling it stuffing, so even though this recipe bakes in a casserole dish, that’s what he calls it).
Keep reading for Justin’s step-by-step method, and follow along with the video above.
Infuse the Broth
Justin amps up a quart of vegetable broth (you can use prepared or homemade) with dried porcini mushrooms, which will add umami and richness and “take this stuffing to the next level.” You’ll need one ounce of mushrooms—add them to the broth in a saucepan and bring to a boil. At that point, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the broth for another half hour, allowing it to reduce as it infuses.
Dry Out (or Don’t Dry Out) Your Bread
Bread is key to stuffing, and this recipe calls for a rustic loaf. Justin cuts the loaf into big pieces and then tears them into chunks for the best texture. If it’s fresh bread, you’ll want to toast it lightly in the oven so it dries out a bit—if it’s day-old bread, you might not need to toast it, Justin says.
Prep and Cook Your Veggies
Add four tablespoons of unsalted butter and two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil to a large skillet. Once the butter melts, add in the chopped onion, and toss in the chopped up celery as well. “Every stuffing or every dressing should have celery, it’s sort of a flavor that just kind of screams Thanksgiving,” Justin says. After seasoning with salt and pepper, take the chopped Swiss chard stems—you’ll add the leaves later—and put them in the pan as well, allowing the mixture to cook for 10 minutes.
Next up is fresh sage, thinly sliced. After it goes in the pan and the mixture becomes fragrant, Justin says, add in the Swiss chard leaves (Justin recommends one handful at a time) and let them wilt.
Start Assembling the Stuffing
After you strain the broth through a fine sieve into a heatproof container (Justin uses a Pyrex liquid measuring cup), pressing on the mushrooms to “extract as much flavor as possible,” it’s time to build that stuffing. Grab a huge (seriously, big) bowl, and dump in the bread, vegetables, one cup of roasted and peeled chestnuts, and one cup of chopped parsley.
Temper Your Eggs
Just like when you’re making carbonara sauce (such as Justin’s smoked gouda carbonara, for example), you’ll need to temper the eggs for this recipe so you don’t end up with scrambled-egg stuffing. Crack ‘em into a bowl, beating them with a whisk and gradually pouring in some of the broth. Once half of the broth is in, Justin says, you can pour the egg mixture into the remaining broth and whisk it all together. Then, pour it into the bread mixture, season it with salt and pepper, and stir to combine so everything is evenly coated and mixed.
Let It Sit, Then Bake
The assembled stuffing goes into a buttered baking dish (make sure the stuffing is in an even layer). Cover it with aluminum foil and let it sit at room temperature for 45 minutes so the custard soaks into the bread. Then, place it in a 375°F oven and bake, taking the foil off halfway through so the top gets irresistibly toasty and lightly browned. Once it’s done baking, let it sit for 10 minutes—after that, you’re all set to enjoy.