On my Thanksgiving table, it’s a tale of two stuffings. There’s my recreation attempt of Jeff’s grandma’s stuffing (read the sentimental story behind that here), which I get a little closer to perfecting each year. And then there’s a secondary stuffing. Well, I shouldn’t call it secondary, because in no way is this stuffing a second fiddle. It’s my chance to experiment. One time, I did a lentil & mushroom stuffing. Last year, I did a chorizo and cornbread stuffing. This year, I’ll be making this Apple, Bacon & Fennel Stuffing.
Side note: in Michigan, we call it “stuffing,” whether or not it’s stuffed into the actual bird (mine never is). I know it technically should be called “dressing,” but that’s just not what we say here. Moving on . . .
This Apple, Bacon & Fennel Stuffing celebrates my love of the combination of sweet + savory. The salty bacon plays perfectly with the snappy, slightly sweet flavor of Michigan Gala apples (my favorite variety for cooking). The fennel adds a hint of anise (licorice) flavor, and a handful of fresh herbs (parsley, rosemary and thyme) complete this chef-inspired stuffing.
Apple, Bacon & Fennel Stuffing
- 2 baguettes (12 ounces each), cut into 1-inch cubes
- 8 ounces bacon, cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 large (or 2 small) fennel bulb(s), chopped (reserve fennel fronds for garnish)
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 Gala apples, cored and chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup milk
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Divide bread cubes between 2 rimmed baking pans. Transfer to oven and bake 12 minutes. Transfer bread cubes to large bowl. Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
- Meanwhile, in large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat 6 to 8 minutes or until crisp, stirring frequently. Use slotted spoon to transfer bacon to bowl with bread cubes. Reserve bacon fat in skillet.
- Add celery, fennel and onion to skillet. Cook over medium-high heat 4 to 6 minutes or until slightly softened. Stir in apples, parsley, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook 3 minutes longer, then remove from heat.
- Spray 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Add broth, milk and vegetable mixture to bowl with bread cubes. Toss until well combined.
- Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish and cover with foil. Transfer to oven and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 30 minutes longer or until top is golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve garnished with chopped fennel fronds.
Adapted from Ina Garten.
Epic Thanksgiving Recipe Schedule:
- Sunday, October 30th: Epic Thanksgiving Overview
- Monday, October 31st: Apple, Bacon + Fennel Stuffing
- Thursday, November 3rd: Aged Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
- Monday, November 7th: Cajun Turkey with Orange-Oregano Gravy
- Monday, November 14th: Sautéed Green Beans with Tomatoes + Crispy Parmesan
- Thursday, November 17th: Hard Cider Cranberry Sauce
- Sunday, November 20th: Cocktail Hour! Roasted Campari Bloody Mary
Other Thanksgiving Ideas:
- Cranberry-Vanilla Gin Spritzer
- Autumn Cheese Board
- Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Crostini with Whipped Feta & Honey
- Roasted Turkey with Bourbon Apricot Glaze
- Fruit & Nut Brussels Sprout Slaw
- Lemon & Maple Glazed Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Autumn Celebration Rice Salad
- Roasted Acorn Squash with Pomegranate & Parsley
- Spiced Sweet Potato Rolls with Bourbon Honey Butter
Use Those Leftovers:
Making one of these recipes? Please let me know by sharing a photo on social media with the hashtag #FLLEpicThanksgiving!
I’m so thankful for each and every person that stops by this blog, whether it’s once in awhile or every day. This little corner of the internet has allowed me to change my life and create a career path for myself that brings me so much joy. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.
Disclosure: This was a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Michigan Apple Committee. Sponsored posts help me pay for the costs associated with this blog (groceries…lots of groceries), and help support me as I pursue a career in recipe development and food photography. All opinions are 100% my own.