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Cornbread Stuffing with Dried Fruit and Fennel

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Serves 8 to 10

  • by Jennifer Armentrout from Fine Cooking
    Issue 81

Dried pears and raisins offer a sweet counterpoint to the toasty cornbread base of this stuffing. Create your own customized stuffing recipe with the Stuffing Recipe Maker.

  • One 14- to 16-oz. loaf freshly baked cornbread, cooled completely
  • 2 Tbs. melted unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil, more as needed
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped celery
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped fennel bulb
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried pears
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp. fennel seeds, toasted in a dry skillet for 2 to 3 minutes until fragrant and lightly crushed
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 cups turkey or chicken broth, more as needed
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Vegetable oil or cooking spray, for baking dish

Break the cornbread into roughly 3/4-inch chunks. You should have about 8 to 10 cups. Set aside.

Melt the 2 Tbs. of butter or heat the 2 Tbs. olive oil in a large covered skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions, celery, and chopped fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until they're slightly softened but still have some crunch. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in dried pears and raisins.

Add the bread to the large mixing bowl, along with the parsley, thyme, and fennel seeds and toss well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour 2 cups of the broth over the stuffing. If the liquid isn't immediately absorbed and pools at the bottom of the bowl, you should have enough; just toss the mixture occasionally for a few minutes until the liquid is absorbed. At first, the bread cubes may feel wet on the outside and still be dry on the inside, but they'll even out as the stuffing cooks.

If the bread immediately sucks up the initial 2 cups of liquid, add another 1/2 cup of broth and taste the mixture. The bread should be moist but not soggy. Add up to another 1/2 cup of broth if necessary.

Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper as needed. If the mixture doesn’t taste as rich as you’d like, add enough melted butter or olive oil to suit your taste, up to 1/4 cup more. Once you’re satisfied with the flavor of the mixture, stir in the beaten eggs.

Heat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with oil or cooking spray. Spread the stuffing in the dish, cover tightly with foil, and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the top is lightly browned and crisp, another 20 to 30 minutes.

Photo: Scott Phillips

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