Challah Bread Is The Secret To An Even Richer Stuffing

Stuffing is as much of a Thanksgiving staple as turkey and pumpkin pie and has one of the most expansive lists of recipes around. Even bread, the common denominator of any stuffing recipe, is up for debate. Some recipes call for sandwich bread, others a crusty sourdough, and, in the South, cornbread stuffing is popular. If you're looking for the richest, most flavorful stuffing, give challah bread a try.

Similar in texture and flavor to brioche, challah is an eggy, yeasty bread with a pillowy, soft texture and a thin, shiny brown, egg-washed crust. The stuffing ingredients bring out the eggy, buttery richness in challah for the most comforting and hearty flavor profile. Apart from eggs, the other wet ingredient in challah is olive oil, bestowing a wonderful earthiness that a stuffing filled with aromatics and herbs will enhance beautifully. Challah also has a subtly sweet finish to complement savory chicken stock.

Its tight crumb and low hydration make challah highly absorbent, which is a major advantage for stuffing. You want bread to soak up as much flavorful, aromatic-infused stock as possible. As it bakes in the oven, challah stuffing will acquire a moist, bread pudding-like texture with crispy, caramelized edges.

More tips for the best challah stuffing

Since challah is already an egg-heavy bread, you don't need to add eggs to challah stuffing. That said, eggs are a crucial binding agent that'll instill cohesion and lock in moisture. Butter is the optimal fat for both the sauteed aromatics and to drizzle over the top of the stuffing. Challah is oil-based, so butter will add a complementary layer of savory dairy richness. Before incorporating the wet ingredients, crisp challah the oven. Drying out bread in the oven maximizes its capability to absorb the broth's flavor without becoming gummy or mushy.

We have already established that thick-cut bread will sabotage stuffing, so you'll want to break challah into small, manageable pieces. If you want a more interesting textural contrast, try ripping the bread into variably shaped pieces instead of cutting it into cubes. You can also optimize stuffing's soft, tender interior and crispy exterior by first baking the stuffing covered at a lower temperature, then increasing the temperature and finishing the stuffing uncovered. Add an extra drizzle of butter to the stuffing before placing it back in the oven to crisp so the challah will brown and not burn.

Leeks, celery, and garlic offer a well-balanced trifecta of sweet, savory, and spicy to pair with challah and bring out the savory notes of the stock. Mushrooms, toasted pecans, rosemary, sage, and thyme bring umami, nuttiness, and herby earthiness to round out the diversity of savory notes.