Monday, November 21, 2016

Make-Ahead Herb and Bacon Stuffing

Our Thanksgiving divided and multiplied. I'm sure we're not the only family celebrating Thanksgiving on two nights. Between in-laws and children, travel days and days off, holidays are sometimes shifted.

So I find myself in the odd situation of making Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday and Friday. The big challenge, of course, is making sure the Friday folks don't feel like they're being served leftovers (even if they are!).

Toward that end, I made the stuffing ahead of time, shaped it into balls and froze it. That way, it won't look like someone has already ravaged the dish of stuffing. Naturally, because I'm blogging about it, we forced ourselves to try it. I had to know it if worked, right?

I might always make the stuffing this way. It has several things to commend it.

1. I can make it the weekend before the holiday! One less thing to stress about.

2. For those who like the crusty top, there's a lot more of it.

3. It limits the portion and looks pretty on the plate. (Preventing me from picking at it until I've eaten more than I meant to.)

4. It would work great for a buffet.

I hit our sad garden for the herbs. Even though the growing season is over and we've had several frosts, the sage and thyme still look perfect! If you don't have fresh herbs, use dried ones.

Make-Ahead Herb and Bacon Stuffing
Makes 16 servings.

1 1-pound loaf of French, Italian, or Roasted Garlic bread
12-ounce package of bacon
1 1/3 cups red onion (about 1 medium red onion)
1 1/3 cups celery (roughly 4 celery stalks)
1 apple
1 stick butter (8 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon fresh sage (or 1 teaspoon dried sage)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
1 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups chicken broth (I used Swanson's Organic)

Preheat oven to 350. Slice your bread and cut into cubes. Spread them on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes to dry them out a bit.

Fry the bacon.

Meanwhile, chop the onions, celery, apple, sage, and thyme and place in a big bowl. When the bacon is crisp, remove it to a paper towel on top of a plate. Set aside. Pour out the bacon grease (Krista's tip: open the top of an empty 1/2 gallon milk carton and pour inside for easy clean-up). Add the butter to the pan. When melted, add the contents of the bowl and cook over medium heat until the onions are soft.

Place the bread into the big bowl. Salt and pepper the onion mixture and turn a couple of times before adding to the bread. Crumble the bacon on top and mix well. Add the chicken broth and turn to mix. Let sit for 10 minutes or so to let the broth soak in.

Turn again. The mixture should be a little bit moist. Place a piece of parchment paper over an old baking sheet. (NOTE: some baking sheets will discolor in the freezer. Use an old one that you don't care about.) Using your hands, shape the stuffing into balls about the size of a large cupcake (roughly 2 1/2 inches in diameter). Place on the parchment paper. Slide the baking sheet into your freezer. After a couple of hours, they will be firm enough to take off the sheet and put in a freezer bag.

To serve: Preheat oven to 350. Bake stuffing balls for 30 minutes. Serve.

Use a crusty bread.

Cut into cubes and bake to dry them out a bit.

Fry bacon.

Add butter and scrape up the bits of bacon on the bottom of the pan.

Cook herbs, apple, onion, and celery.

Mix it all!

Form into balls and place on parchment paper.

After a couple of hours, they're sufficiently frozen to move them to a freezer bag.

Bake as many as you need!


  1. What a brilliant idea!
    I suppose you saute in butter, rather than the remaining bacon fat, for flavor reasons. That is, there will be enough bacon flavor from the actual bacon and pan scrapings and the butter adds an additional flavor.
    Well done. Now all I need is freezer space!
    Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

    1. In the past I have reserved 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings, but this time I just used butter, and I like the taste even better!

  2. Oh gosh, this looks yummy enough to eat off the screen -- well-done!

  3. I love this recipe, Krista! Brilliant and beautiful. Hugs. MJ

  4. Hmm. My comment disappeared. BUT I still think this is brilliant and beautiful, Krista! Thank you.

  5. That stuffing looks amazing. I definitely have to give it a try.

  6. looks wonderful. cant wait for the release of this book

  7. Great idea! Will have to give this recipe a try. Thanks! Della