Rosemary Bacon Mushroom Stuffing
I can’t decide which will be harder about not coming home for Thanksgiving: missing seeing my family, or missing my step dad Larry’s mushroom stuffing.
This year marks Ben and my fourth Thanksgiving as a married couple, and up until this point, I’ve managed to delicately negotiate spending every Turkey Day with my family in Wichita. We live 20 minutes from Ben’s parents and two hours from his extended family, so the logic has gone that, since I only make it home two or three times a year, one of those times should be Thanksgiving. Up until this year, that logic has held.
Thanksgiving (and all holidays really) are a BIG DEAL in my family. We pull out the good china, agonize over which pumpkin dessert to make (my vote is Pumpkin Pecan Pie), and disagree over whose mashed potato recipe is better, The Pioneer Woman’s or Paula Deen’s. (For the record, I vote Pioneer Woman.) The idea of spending Thanksgiving anywhere but around my mom’s table with a full glass of wine and plate heaped high with the recipes we’ve been making every Thanksgiving year after year seems both impossible and disheartening.
Except that now I have another family now too: Ben’s. Thanksgiving is a big deal in his family as well.
I am incredibly blessed to have married into a boisterous Italian family who I love and who also happens to throw a stellar party. As hard as it is going to be to spend Thanksgiving away from my family this year, I know that it is important that we spend a Thanksgiving with Ben’s family too.
Although nothing will replace seeing my mom and sisters, fortunately I won’t need to miss our entire spread. I’m planning to share a bit of my family tradition with Ben’s by bringing my two favorite side dishes: Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Whiskey Pecans and today’s recipe for Rosemary Bacon Mushroom Stuffing.
Besides making the undisputed juiciest Thanksgiving turkey, Larry also makes the greatest stuffing with mushrooms, pancetta, and a surprise ingredient, dried plums (a.k.a. prunes). Although not classic to stuffing, the prunes add a rich sweetness that is an ideal counterpoint to the salty pancetta. In fact, I love this mushroom stuffing so much, I’ve been known to eat it for breakfast the next morning with a runny egg on top.
When Jones Dairy Farm, a sixth-generation family-owned company that is local to me in Wisconsin, asked me to create a recipe for its Stuffing and More recipe page, I knew right away that I wanted to make a stuffing recipe inspired by Larry’s.
In place of the pancetta, I used Jones’ Cherry Hardwood Smoked Thick-Cut Bacon. It cooks and crisps beautifully, adds a phenomenal smokiness to the stuffing, and I find it offers more flavor than pancetta too. (To find the bacon and other Jones Dairy Farm products, including sausage, ham, and Canadian bacon, in store near you, use this product locator.)
For the bread, I opted for a hearty whole grain loaf. I love the nuttiness it adds, as well as the extra fiber boost (necessary to survive a full Thanksgiving day eating marathon). A quick toasting in the oven made for perfectly light and crispy croutons, perfect for drinking up the flavorful stock (and a bit of the extra bacon fat too!).
Mushrooms add an earthy flavor, and I kept Larry’s prunes, because I’ve become addicted to the juicy chew and sweetness they provide. Once you try them in your stuffing, you won’t be able to imagine it any other way.
I know families often make the same recipes year after year, but if you are in the market for a new stuffing recipe (and honestly, even if you are not), I’m positive that this one will become an instant favorite at your table. Salty, earthy, a little savory, and a little sweet, it’s a Thanksgiving side dish your entire gathering is sure to gobble.
Rosemary Bacon Mushroom Stuffing
- 1 large loaf artisan-style whole grain — or sourdough bread, not sandwich bread, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/4 pounds total, yielding 12 cups cubes)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil — divided
- 1 1/2 pounds sliced cremini baby bella mushrooms
- 8 ounces Jones Dairy Farm Cherry Hardwood Smoked Thick-Cut Bacon — cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 large yellow onion — diced
- 4 celery stalks — thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3-4 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1 1/2 cups prunes — pitted and quartered
- 2 large eggs — lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the bread cubes in an even layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until the cubes are lightly toasted, about 12 minutes, stirring twice during the baking to ensure they toast evenly. Let the cubes cool, then place them a very large mixing bowl. Increase the oven’s temperature to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9x13-inch dish with baking spray and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium. Saute the mushrooms until browned and they have given up their juices, about 8 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Return the skillet to the heat, then add the remaining tablespoon olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the bacon pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, 7-10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pieces to a paper towel-lined plate.
Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the skillet. Increase the heat to medium high, then add the onion, celery, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and soft, about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups of the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Once the stock is hot, pour the skillet contents over the bread cubes.
Let the bread mixture cool for a few minutes until it is no longer hot, then add the mushrooms, prunes, beaten eggs, parsley, and rosemary. The mixture should be very wet, so add additional chicken stock as needed.
Transfer the stuffing to a prepared baking dish. Coat a large piece of aluminum foil with cooking spray, then use it to cover the stuffing, spray side down. Bake the stuffing for 20 minutes, remove the foil, then bake for an additional 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and fairly dry. Let cool 10 minutes, then enjoy.
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For more Thanksgiving stuffing recipe inspiration (and to see my Mushroom, Rosemary and Jones Bacon Stuffing in all its glory), be sure to check out Stuffing and More. I’d like to thank Jones Dairy Farm for sponsoring this post and all of you for supporting the brands and companies that make it possible for me to continue to provide quality content to you.
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