Thanksgiving Sides: Italian Stuffing

Stuffing is a Thanksgiving staple. And to me, it’s like eggnog. Every year I try it, and every year I realize I don’t really like it…I mean, I wantttt to like it. It looks good, everyone likes it, it’s at every meal, but I just can’t get behind it. The bread texture turns me off, and I do NOT like crunchy celery in my stuffing…
That being said, I know there has to be stuffing at the big meal. So why not take it into my own hands and make one that I actually like? I know, fabulous idea. And what would be in my ideal stuffing? Crunchy bread, bacon, and cheese…lots of cheese. And so, Italian Stuffing was born. It still has enough of the traditional ingredients to be classified as stuffing, but its unique spin makes it drool-worthy. I actually go back for seconds!! And don’t worry…the traditional stuffing-lovers in my family, although resistant at first, loved this new stuffing twist, too! (How could they not, there’s a package of bacon in it) 🙂
Italian Stuffing
Ingredients:

  • 6 cups ciabatta bread torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 package bacon
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  •  2 teaspoons each of sage, thyme and rosemary, fresh or dried
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a 2-quart shallow baking dish; set aside. Spread bread pieces on foil in a baking pan. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until bread is dry, stirring once. Transfer to a very large bowl; set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.
  3. In the same skillet, cook onion, celery, thyme, and herbs in hot bacon grease over medium-high heat until onion and celery are tender. Transfer onion mixture to the bowl. Stir in egg, the 1/2 cup cheese, the salt, and pepper. Drizzle with enough of the broth to moisten, tossing gently to combine.
  4. Transfer bread mixture to the prepared baking dish. Cover and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until heated through. If desired, sprinkle with additional cheese. Makes 8 servings.

Ciabatta bread

The lucky spices.

A little onion + celery.

Chop, chop!

Everything’s better with a bit of bacon.

Cooked!

Saute veggies + spices.

…until soft.

Mix together crisped bread and bacon.

Pour into baking dish, add additional ingredients, and top with Parmesan.

Baked to perfection!

A little turkey and potatoes…

Stuffing, up close and personal.

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