Is it just us, or is the stuffing always the first thing to disappear from the table on Thanksgiving? It’s understandable. What’s not to love about a big casserole dish full of aromatic vegetables and hearty bread? The buttery leeks, carrots and celery fill the kitchen with a pleasant, welcoming aroma and signal to everyone that dinner is almost ready. Traditionally, stuffing was piled into the cavity of the turkey before the bird was roasted. Besides avoiding cross-contamination, cooking these two staple dishes separately also allows a pleasant crust to form on the top layer of stuffing. It’s certainly a more modern take — and one that we can definitely get behind.
This sourdough and challah stuffing is special because we use two different kinds of bread. Sourdough and challah are both delicious on their own, but when they come together, they provide this stuffing with an array of flavors and textures. And let’s be honest — a side dish as delicious as stuffing deserves better than plain old white bread. Even more flavor is added to this dish with some seasonal herbs (sage and thyme) and plenty of fresh garlic. Parsnips add a pleasant earthiness, while slivered almonds are scattered throughout the stuffing to add a nutty bite to each forkful.
Most stuffing recipes will moisten the bread with broth or stock, but we replace half of the liquid with apple cider for an added autumnal flair. A chopped Honeycrisp apple is also added to the mixture, which provides a subtle fruity sweetness to this savory dish.
Preheat the oven to 300 F. Combine the sourdough and challah bread pieces on a sheet pan and bake until dry and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool. Raise the oven temperature to 375 F.2.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the leeks with a heavy pinch of salt and pepper and cook until jammy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the carrots, celery and parsnips and cook until softened but still slightly crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the sage, thyme and garlic and continue to cook until fragrant for about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and season again with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool for about 5 minutes.3.
In a large bowl, toss the toasted bread with the vegetables, vegetable stock, apple cider, almonds, parsley and apples. Season with two heavy pinches of salt and pepper. Add heavy cream and eggs and mix thoroughly to combine.4.
Transfer stuffing mixture to a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish. Bake until golden and set, 50 to 60 minutes.5.
Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.