Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bacon Apple Cheddar Stuffing

Being the food nerd that I am, I often update my facebook status about what we are eating for dinner, or what I am cooking.

Not usually a ton of comments hit those but a lot of likes. So when I posted that I made balsamic grilled pork tenderloin, roasted sweet potatoes, salad and bcaon, apple, and cheddar stuffing and I got a plethora comments asking for the recipe, I thought it would be nice to give it to you.

I'm not sure how this recipe came about, other than I know I started out putting it inside a pork roast. But pork roasts are tricky to cook, not very quick and make for squishy stuffing. It's fall encapsulated in a dish to me.

I realize stuffing is a very polarizing subject. Cornbread vs bread, sausage or not, lots of sage or's a very personal business often relating closely to what part of the country you are from. This being said, and while it may not be the case for all, I think this stuffing has mass appeal. First off, who doesn't like bacon? And not many people are currently putting bacon in their stuffing so it's different enough to be sort of like grandma's but just under par. It's part bread and part cornbread. And who doesn't like cheddar and apples? It's pretty much all-american. (on an unrelated side note, have you ever put cheddar or your apple pie? It's SO good! My husband disagrees and is repulsed by this act...but if salty/sweet is your thing, DO IT!)

This was such a big hit in our home my husband has requested it for Thanksgiving. I'd say it's a winner!

1/2 package of bacon (or about 8 slices) diced)
1 small onion diced
4 cups loosely packed bread cubes (I've used three leftover hot dog buns or 4 dinner rolls for this recently) dried (left out over night or stuck in a 250 degree oven for 1/2 hour)
6 cornbread muffins, or 1/2 of a normal sized batch*
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 large apple or 2 small diced
1 cup packed freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 egg
1 teaspoon rubbed sage (a little more if you like it heavy on the sage)
salt and pepper to taste

First off, cooking is very loose. There aren't too many hard and fast recipes. The beauty of it is experimenting and customizing it to your tastes. If you think it's too much apple, cut back. Think celery would be a good addition (it would, but the hubs isn't crazy about it and I didn't have any), throw it in! I would encourage you to make it the directed way first unless you are quite comfortable in the kitchen and then notate your preferences for the future.

*I use White Lily cornbread mix. Not that healthy, but I love it and it turns out perfect each time. I follow the directions on the back. If I am making cornbread just for this I half the recipe. The recipe for half calls for 1 cup of the cornbread mix. You could use leftovers. If you're a little short no biggie you may just need to cut back on how much stock you add.

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

In a saucepan cook bacon on medium. It won't cook quite as fast, but that is good. We are rendering the fat which will get more fat out (for flavoring) and make the bacon crispier. Once the bacon begins to get crispy add the onion. Cook until the onion is just translucent. About 8 or so minutes.

While the bacon and onion are cooking crumble to cornbread into a large mixing bowl. Add bread cubes, apple, cheddar, sage and salt and pepper (I used about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper) and toss together. Once the onion and bacon are done toss those in. Add about 2 1/2 cups of stock (more or less if needed) to get to an oatmeal or grits like consistency.

Beat the egg in a small bowl and then add. Mix thoroughly.

Pour into greased baking pan and bake for about 1 hour at 350 on the bottom rack moving to the top rack for the last 15 minutes to brown the top. The cooking time is really iffy depending on what kind of dish you use. The more shallow it is the quicker it will cook. Mine was about 1 1/2 inches deep and took about an hour. Just use the toothpick test if unsure.

A quick keeping it real shot for you. I'm photographing by my sink (most light) which is filled with dishes and I still have Halloween candy buckets on my counter.

As always, if you have any questions feel free to ask!

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