Winter Fruit and Nut Stuffing

November 21, 2011

Winter Fruit and Nut Stuffing

Last year I struggled and struggled with what type of stuffing (or dressing, as I don’t generally stuff my turkey) to fix. After digging through many recipes, I decided the winter fruit and nut stuffing would be a perfect addition to the table. Filled with dried fruits and sweetened with a bit of Sauternes, it lacked an overly-sweet flavor that I had feared other fruit stuffings would bring to the overall menu.

One word to the wise: always read through a few of the comments on websites that have them. While reading through the comments on this particular recipe, I realized there was a misprint on the website, and the recipe should contain some chicken stock as well. So I made the necessary changes, and this recipe turned out perfectly.

Winter Fruit and Nut Stuffing
slightly adapted from Epicurious.com
Makes 12 servings

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter
2 large Anjou pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups chopped onions
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 1/2 cups Sauternes or other sweet white wine
3/4 to 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I made a vegetarian version by portioning out some of the mixture cooked with vegetable stock)
1 1/2 cups chopped pitted prunes
1 1/2 cups chopped dried apricots
1 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
14 cups 1/2-inch cubes crustless firm white bread (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 cup pecans, toasted, chopped

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pears; sprinkle with sugar. Saute until pears are golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to very large bowl; mix in cinnamon. Melt remaining 10 tablespoons butter in same skillet over medium heat. Add onions and celery; saute until golden, about 15 minutes. Add wine and next 6 ingredients. Simmer until liquid is reduced almost to glaze and mixture is soft and moist, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Mix into pears. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Reheat to lukewarm before continuing.)

Mix bread and pecans into fruit mixture. Season stuffing with salt and pepper.

To bake stuffing in turkey:
Loosely fill main cavity and neck cavity of turkey with stuffing. Generously butter baking dish. Spoon remaining stuffing into prepared dish. Cover dish with buttered foil, buttered side down. Bake stuffing in dish — alongside turkey or while turkey is resting — until heated through, about 25 minutes. Uncover stuffing in dish. Bake until top of stuffing is slightly crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer.

To bake stuffing in dish:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Transfer stuffing to prepared dish. Bake uncovered until heated through, about 35 minutes.

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