Let’s be real, stuffing is the real star at Thanksgiving. Travis Swikard, executive chef of Boulud Sud in NYC, shares his recipe that puts an Italian twist on the traditional version using ciabatta bread and pancetta. Don’t worry, it still comes loaded with sage, cranberries and chestnuts for the perfect blend of taste and texture. Finally, Swikard sneaks in the turkey gizzards, so you can put them to good use instead of throwing them out.
The key to this stuffing recipe is drying the bread and then letting it soak up all the flavor of the other ingredients. The oven helps pull out moisture from the bread, while that hour of soaking time afterward is crucial for sopping up the juices. While at first it may seem like a lot of liquid, Swikard says, “Always go with more moisture than you think.” We promise after an hour it’ll all be gone.
To learn more, read "Chef’s Table."
Tuscan Bread Stuffing
Recipe adapted from Travis Swikard, Boulud Sud, New York, NY
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus resting time
Cook Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes, plus resting time
1½ pounds (1½ large loaves) ciabatta bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
8 ounces pancetta, small dice
1 package turkey liver and gizzards (from 1 large turkey)
2 medium carrots, peeled and small dice
2 celery stalks, small dice
1 large yellow onion, small dice
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
4 cups turkey stock
1½ cups roasted chestnuts, roughly chopped
1¼ cups dried cranberries
¼ cup minced sage
¼ cup minced rosemary
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 225º. Lay out the bread on a baking sheet and bake until dry, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the bread to a large bowl. Raise the oven temperature to 350º.
2. Meanwhile, heat the pancetta in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until the pancetta is crispy and the fat has rendered, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to the bowl with the bread.
3. Add the liver and gizzards to the pan and cook, turning as needed until golden and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes for the liver and 8 to 10 minutes for the gizzards. Transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop, then add to the stuffing bowl.
4. To the pan, add the carrots, celery and onion and sweat until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to the stuffing bowl.
5. Add the butter to the pan and cook until it begins to brown and has a nutty aroma, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the cream to warm through. Add the butter mixture to the stuffing bowl with the remaining ingredients and using your hands, mix the stuffing to incorporate. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
6. Transfer the stuffing to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and bake until golden brown, 45 to 55 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes, then serve.