Apple, Bacon & Fennel Stuffing
On my Thanksgiving table, it’s a tale of two stuffings. There’s my recreation attempt of Jeff’s grandma’s stuffing, 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). And if you love the combo of apples and bacon as much as I do, you’ll want to try my Skillet Mac and Cheese with Bacon & Apples.
The fennel adds a hint of anise (licorice) flavor, and a handful of fresh herbs (parsley, rosemary and thyme) complete this chef-inspired stuffing.
Psst – if you have extra rosemary (you will!) – try out something new with my lemon and bourbon sour rosemary cocktail.
To find out more about Michigan Apples, be sure to connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Also, check out the Michigan Apples Blog for more delicious recipes!
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.
Epic Thanksgiving Recipe Schedule:
- Sunday, October 30th: Thanksgiving Recipes Master List
- 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
- Maple Bourbon Glaze for Turkey – brush this on at the end for extra flavor.
- Gravy from Scratch – you can even make this ahead of time!
- Crockpot Green Bean Casserole – with fresh green beans and no canned soup!
- Corn Casserole with Cheese
- Fruit & Nut Brussels Sprout Slaw
- Lemon & Maple Glazed Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Old Fashioned Bread Stuffing – a secret family recipe!
- Thanksgiving Rice Recipe – an easy pilaf with cranberries and pears.
- Roasted Acorn Squash with Pomegranate & Parsley
- Spiced Sweet Potato Rolls with Bourbon Honey Butter
- Cranberry Curd Tart – with gluten free options!
Use Those Leftovers:
- Thanksgiving Leftover Waffles
- Turkey & Gnocchi Arrabiata Soup
- Use up leftover mashed potatoes in a loaded mashed potato bake casserole!
- Ham and Potato Soup, if you also made a ham for Thanksgiving and have 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.
Making this right now! My house smells amazing. I will update with reviews from my family after.
Yay! I hope it’s a hit!
This recipe sounds amazing. make ahead steps you could take for this recipe to cut down on the day of prep?
Hi Jessica – I’m ALL about prepping ahead. Here’s what I would do a day or two in advance: Cut and toast the bread (Step 1). Let it cool COMPLETELY, then put it in some ziploc freezer bags and keep them at room temperature. Do all of steps 2 and 3, and just transfer the mixture to a container to keep in the fridge. Then, the day of Thanksgiving, I would combine everything and bake (steps 4 and 5). You may want to microwave the vegetable mixture for a minute first, if the vegetable mixture is a bit congealed thanks to all the bacon deliciousness. Hope that helps. Have a great Thanksgiving!
While I appreciate all of your efforts to continue my grandmother’s stuffing (and you do a great job by the way), I like that there is always a second option on the table. Do people really need two stuffings? Probably not! But I liked the chorizo and cornbread one. And I am sure I will like this one if you choose to make it – sadly I was in Mexico for work at the start of this project / cooking / photo process.
SECOND STUFFING: A Yates family tradition. hahaha.
Can’t wait.What’s on the menu?
Not sure yet. Stay tuned!
It was very good when i had it last week with the rest of the Epic meal!
I’m glad 🙂 Real Thanksgiving will be MORE EPIC.
Your stuffing sounds wonderful, except that I can’t deal with fennel. I’ve always called it stuffing because as I was growing up it was always stuffed into the bird and therefore was stuffing. Somehow, for me, that’s never changed. Besides that, everyone knows (or should know) what stuffing is. Stuffing by any other name is still stuffing. :[)
Hi Susan! I know fennel is kind of polarizing. I think you either like it or hate it, and there’s probably no in between. But this STUFFING would be great even omitting the fennel. I’m so glad I’m not the only crazy one who calls it stuffing when the only thing I’m stuffing it into is a baking dish! Ha!