In our book, there is stuffing, and then there is challah stuffing, aka, the king of all stuffings. If you haven’t used challah bread in a stuffing before, you are in for a treat. The trick to good stuffing is tearing up (or chopping) your bread 1 to 2 days prior to making the dish. Leave the torn pieces of bread out to get stale. This provides just the right combination of crisp and moist when you bake it. If you don’t have time to let your bread get stale, this can be mimicked in a warm oven.
1 loaf challah bread, cut/torn into 1-inch pieces
½ loaf white bread or dried stuffing mix bread cut (or already if dried) into cubes (preferably a bit smaller than the challah to give a change in texture and let the challah shine. Save the other half for leftover turkey sandwiches.)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 carrots, grated
2 large yellow onions, chopped fine
4 large stalks celery chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
6oz fresh poultry/stuffing herb mix (sage, rosemary & thyme).
3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Step 1: Prep the bread
One to 2 days prior to cooking your stuffing, tear or chop bread into bite-sized pieces. Place in a large, open air bowl and leave out to get stale. You can cover with a towel when you are not in the area to shield it from the elements (or snacking fingers). If you do not have the time to leave the bread out, you can place it in a 225ºF oven to bake for about 60 minutes (turning the bread every 20 minutes). You want it to harden but not brown or burn.
Step 2: Chop and saute veggies
Chop celery, onion and garlic (smaller or larger depending on the bites you want in your stuffing). We suggest grating the carrot, but chopping finely works as well. Finely chop herbs.
In a saute pan on medium/high heat, add 4 tablespoons of butter. When the butter is bubbling, add veggies and saute until soft and tender. Add half of the stuffing herbs to the mixture during the last minute of cooking. Note: if you have a favorite dried herb seasoning, use it if you wish. Just be careful if it has salt in it; if it does, reduce the salt you add in step 3. Set mixture aside.
Step 3: Add bread
In a large bowl, mix bread with the veggies until thoroughly combined. Sprinkle in salt and pepper so it gets mixed throughout. Add the remaining herbs.
Pour stock over the bread and mix until incorporated. Tip: If you have vegan or vegetarians at the table, make two pans; one with veggie stock for the vegetarians, and one pan with chicken stock for the carnivores.
At this point, taste it. Does it taste good? Is there enough salt? Pepper? Make it your own. If it needs a bit more seasoning, add it! Easier now than later.
Pro tip: If you want to kick up the decadence a bit, right before serving or while the stuffing is baking, add some of the drippings from your cooked turkey. We think about this now, because if you plan to do this, remember the turkey drippings can be salty. Take this into consideration when you salt and taste test before baking.
Step 4: Bake
Use a baking dish large enough to fit the stuffing so it’s about 3 inches deep. If you need two pans, use two! Butter or oil the dish, then fill with stuffing.
When you bake it depends on your meal timing. The total cooking time for the stuffing should take around 35-45 minutes at 375ºF degrees. You can bake it when you want: early in the day, then warm up as you carve the turkey, or time it to be piping hot when the bird it done.
Whenever you decide to cook it, cover it with aluminum foil for 25 minutes, then uncover for the remaining 10-20 minutes. The stuffing should have a nicely crispy top when it is finished. Remove, serve and enjoy!