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Sauerkraut & Rye Bread Stuffing

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Yields 12 to 14 cups.

At my first Thanksgiving with my husband’s Baltimore family, I was surprised to see a big bowl of sauerkraut next to the turkey. I later learned that sauerkraut is a mid-Atlantic holiday tradition. This stuffing embraces it enthusiastically.

  • 1/2 lb. bacon, preferably thick cut, country-style, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped celery, including leaves 
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped carrots
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried
  • 1 tsp. caraway seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp. celery seeds
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or beer 
  • 2 cups chopped tart apples
  • 8 cups stale or lightly toasted 1/2-inch rye bread cubes
  • 1 lb. fresh sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Turkey stock or homemade or low-salt chicken broth as needed
Tip:
Plastic bags of fresh sauerkraut are sold in the refrigerated or deli section in most supermarkets. It must be rinsed before using.

In a large skillet, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour off all but 4 Tbs. of the bacon grease and set the pan over moderate heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, thyme, caraway seeds, celery seeds, and salt. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping the pan to loosen and dissolve the browned bits. Add the apples, cover, and cook until the apples are tender. Remove from the heat and combine in a large bowl with the bread cubes and sauerkraut. Season with pepper; toss to combine.

If cooking in a turkey, put the stuffing in  the bird just before roasting. Pack the stuffing loosely, leaving enough room to fit your whole extended hand into the bird's cavity. Cook the stuffing in the bird to 160º to 165ºF, checking with an instant-read thermometer. If the bird is done before the stuffing is, take the bird out of the oven, spoon the stuffing into a casserole dish, and continue to bake it while the turkey rests.

If baking some or all of the stuffing in a casserole, pour a cup or two of stock over the stuffing to replace the juices the stuffing would have absorbed from the bird. Bake it covered until heated through, 45 minutes to 1 hour. For a crunchy top, uncover it for the last 15 minutes of baking.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : per 1/2 cup stuffing; Calories (kcal): 100; Fat (g): 6; Fat Calories (kcal): 50; Saturated Fat (g): 2; Protein (g): 2; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 3; Carbohydrates (g): 11; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): 390; Cholesterol (mg): 5; Fiber (g): 2;

Photo: Ben Fink

I love this stuffing-- it is kind of like a reuben sandwich (with no thousand island). The apples make a nice little soft bit of sweetness too-- then there is bacon, rye bread, and crusty edges!

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