A must for any Thanksgiving table, stuffing is always a crowd-pleasing side dish. My Fennel, Apple, and Chestnut Stuffing does not disappoint!
I’ve been making this stuffing for every Thanksgiving dinner for years and because its flavor and texture is so familiar to many, it always receives rave reviews. You can make this stuffing with any kind of bread; semolina loaf, ciabatta, baguette, or even a dark bread will work well. You can even mix two kinds of bread together. Leftover or day old bread works perfect here! All that is necessary is to toast the bread before adding the vegetables and broth so that it can really soak up the flavors without turning to mush.
The fennel softens and adds a muted anise flavor, the apples provide little pops of tart and sweet, and the chestnuts are meaty and soft. Do yourself a favor and use peeled and precooked chestnuts; they are often of good quality and they are so much easier than cooking chestnuts.
As for the herbs, you’ll want to use the ones that will make this stuffing truly taste like Thanksgiving: sage, rosemary, thyme, and marjoram. You can use fresh or dried or even a combination of the both if you can find some of them fresh. Marjoram, for example, isn’t always found fresh so dried will work great here.
- 12 cups (13oz or 265g) of diced bread (1/4 inch cubes)
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion or 2-3 leeks
- 2 cups diced fennel (one large bulb, save the fronds)
- 1 cup diced carrots (around 2 carrots)
- 1 apple, diced (grannysmith or golden delicious)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1½ teaspoons chopped fresh sage (3/4 teaspoon dried)
- 1½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (3/4 teaspoon dried)
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (1/2 teaspoon dried)
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram (1/2 teaspoon dried)
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- ¾ cup chopped cooked chestnuts
- ½ teaspoon sea salt (3/4 teaspoon if your broth isn't that salty)
- black pepper to taste
- Divide the diced bread between two baking sheets and toast in the oven for 12 minutes at 400°F. Rotate the pans halfway through to make sure they toast evenly. When they are done, you'll notice that they've taken on a little color and have become crunchy. Remove from the oven and let cool on the counter for 5-10 minutes. When cool, transfer the breadcrumbs into a large mixing bowl.
- In a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat, add 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil and sauté the onions until slightly softened (3 minutes). Add the diced fennel and carrots and sauté for 5 minutes. Finally add the diced apple and garlic and sauté for another 3 minutes. You may notice that some of the veggies will brown and take on some color, that's good! Add the sage, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, red pepper, and sauté for another minute and finally add the vegetable broth to deglaze the pan. Remove from the heat. Stir in the chestnuts, salt, and black pepper.
- Add the cooked veggies and broth mixture to the big bowl of toasted bread and stir to thoroughly combine. Pour the seasoned bread and veggies mixture into a 9x13 inch baking dish and press gently to evenly distribute the bread. Drizzle with the remaining 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Bake, uncovered, in that same 400°F oven for 15-20 minutes or until the top starts to slightly brown and gets crunchy. Remove from oven, garnish with chopped fennel fronds and serve hot.
Looking for more Thanksgiving recipe ideas? Check these out: