While cooking, listen to this: Rosie by John Mayer
Like dry wine, stuffing is an acquired taste.
To tell you the truth, I wasn't always a fan of stuffing. In fact, until we made this recipe, Rina wasn't much of a fan either. I get it - there's something bizarre about a bread casserole with fruit in it. But once you dig your fork in and take a bite, I'm willing to bet you'll become a believer.
I'm heading back to Detroit tomorrow and couldn't be more excited. Besides the fact that my mom has insisted we all hold on off on watching Stranger Things 2 until we can reunite to binge watch it together over Thanksgiving (the tradition started last year when I wanted to watch the Gilmore Girls revival, but knew my brothers and dad wouldn't enjoy it), a whole slew of extended family members come in, mostly for the Michigan-Ohio State game (preparing for another heartbreaker this year), but also to gather around and eat good food.
When the family comes in, my mom and dad cook up a whole feast. While Mom makes two kinds of stuffing (I won't get into my brother's nut "allergy"), Dad gets the turkeys going. Yes, that is plural. One in the oven, one in the frier. The turkey fry is a bit of a ceremony - we all sit around a bonfire in our driveway in soccer chairs sipping beer and waiting for the turkey to do its business, fire extinguisher on the side, just in case. It's about as country as you can get in the suburbs, I suppose, and it's always a good time.
As you might have noticed, we love honoring our Jewish heritage on this blog. Whether it's feminist biblical spins from Rina or nostalgia in the form of bar mitzvah desserts from me, we always try to give this blog a haimish feel. So of course we had to make stuffing out of challah! Rina's roommate graciously lent us her homemade challah (our own recipe coming soon!), and we were off. When Rina finally pulled this monster out of the oven, my stomach audibly growled. It smelled absolutely divine and really got me in the Thanksgiving spirit.
If you're looking to up your stuffing game this year, have we got a treat for you. You know, we're always here to take care of our readers, and this holiday is no exception. Cozy comfort food and carbs is what Thanksgiving is all about, honestly. And family, of course, but you can't eat family.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Hope yours is surrounded by family and friends.
CHALLAH STUFFING WITH APPLES, SHALLOTS + CRANBERRIES
Yield: about 8 servings
Active Cook Time: 15m | Total Cook Time: 35m
Category: Sides, Thanksgiving, Comfort Food
Source: very slightly adapted from Epicurious
Special Equipment: cast-iron/oven-safe skillet, high-speed food processor/blender
Note about Special Equipment: we did this with a large saute pan and baking dish because I don't have a skillet in my kitchen, so use this method if you are skillet-less like me.
2 shallots, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 medium green apples, roughly chopped (don't peel)
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
4 Tablespoons/½ stick unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 medium loaf of challah, cut into 1-inch cubes (around 10 cups)
1 ½ cups vegetable broth
½ cup apple cider
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 ½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
½ cup dried cranberries
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Prepare the veggies: preheat the oven to 375, and add the shallots, onion, celery, apples and garlic to a high-speed food processor or blender. Pulse until finely chopped, scraping the sides down if necessary.
Saute the veggies: in a cast-iron skillet/large saute pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat. When totally melted, add the chopped veggie mixture and stir to evenly coat in that glorious butter. Season with a good amount of salt and pepper, and allow to cook for 7-8 minutes, until soft and lightly brown.
Add remaining ingredients: reduce the heat to medium and add bread cubes, again stirring to ensure even coating. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until the bread is softened, stirring occasionally. Take off the heat and stir in the vegetable broth, apple cider, rosemary, thyme and cranberries. Stir to incorporate, and allow liquid to totally absorb. Add the two eggs and stir to combine.
Bake the stuffing: if you're using a skillet, just transfer it to the oven. If you're like me and are using a baking pan, now's the time to transfer your stuffing into it. With both methods, bake for 20-25 minutes, until the stuffing is cooked through and deeply golden brown on top.
To serve: I refuse to say how to serve this because I know I will end up offending someone's family traditions. Once this stunning stuffing is out of the oven, it's all you, love.
To keep: this is a great dish to make ahead so that your massive day of Thanksgiving cooking is that much less daunting. Keep it in the freezer for a little while and reheat when ready to serve, or pop it in the fridge the day or two before Thanksgiving.