With its hint of saltiness, touch of sweet and homey flavor, Pear, Sage and Golden Raisin Stuffing is a great side for the holiday table.
Thanksgiving may be the worst arena in which to introduce change. Convincing family members to head anywhere other than the yearly destination might result in a bloody coup.
Then there’s the table, that altar to the taste buds. While my family doesn’t have some of the American standards, like sweet potatoes or bread stuffing (what can I say, I’m from a European family), my mom rocks the turkey, marinating it in brandy for three days before sliding it in the oven. My mother-in-law, on the other hand, makes a bread stuffing so good that she won me over on the stuff.
So, when there are so many fantastic recipes passed down from family to family, why even both with the new ones? Why review a new one? It’s a hard sell when looking in the eyes of a man who’s had the best stuffing all his life, trust me.
Even so, I tried.
The only way I came close to getting all the prep done in 45 was by doing a little dance between the stove, oven and cutting board. The first thing I did was cut up my bread, put it on the sheet pan and slide in in a hot oven. While the cubes toasted, I put the raisins in hot water to soak and the bacon in a skillet to fry.
I ‘quickly’ chopped up the onion, carrots, and celery so it would be ready to saute when the bacon was crisp. While those three softened, I chopped the sage and minced the garlic, then added them to the skillet. Truth be told, my chopping and mincing took longer than the cooking did so the toasted cubes, pump raisins and hot skillet sat ‘on hold’ for a bit while I made sure I didn’t slice any appendages into the meal.
Then the eggy stock mixture was poured over the rest of the ingredients (in a large bowl), spooned into a dish (which, some might say makes it a dressing, not a stuffing) and baked.
It really is impossible to expect someone to be able to compare a new stuffing recipe against his mom’s. I don’t know why I bothered. I guess it was because the play of sweet (pear and raisin), earthy (sage), and savory (bacon) really appealed to me. Doug didn’t dislike the stuffing, but he didn’t really care for it either. He said that it was pretty bland. I have to agree. I could have used about three other kinds of herbs and a good dose of salt. I’d have even given up the bacon for some salt. The sweetness of the pear and raisins were wonderful in the dressing; it just needed more herby punch.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
I’d add some fresh thyme and rosemary along with the sage as well as a teaspoon of salt.
Sourdough oval: $4.99
Golden raisins: $2.99
Yellow onion: $.58
Bosc pear: $1.44
Pear, Sage and Golden Raising Stuffing Recipe
- 12 ounces whole-wheat sourdough bread, cut into ¾-in. cubes
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- ¼ cup hot water
- 2 thick-cut bacon slices (about 2½ oz.)
- 2 cups chopped yellow onion
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 5 teaspoons chopped fresh sage, divided
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2¼ cups unsalted chicken stock
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 1½ cups chopped ripe Bosc pear
- Cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Arrange bread cubes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes or until golden, stirring after 10 minutes. Place bread cubes in a large bowl.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
- Place raisins in a small bowl; cover with ¼ cup hot water. Let stand 10 minutes; drain.
- Cook bacon slices in a skillet over medium 10 minutes or until crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon; crumble. Add onion, carrot, and celery to bacon drippings in pan; sauté 6 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon sage and garlic; cook 1 minute. Remove pan from heat.
- Combine stock, butter, pepper, and eggs in a large bowl. Add stock mixture, drained raisins, bacon, pear, and vegetable mixture to bread; toss to combine. Spoon into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes. Top with remaining 2 teaspoons sage.