Whether you call it dressing or stuffing, one of the most important side dishes at Thanksgiving has to be this one. It’s also one of the sides I used to find the most intimidating. The seemingly endless variations on this classic dish meant I never knew quite where to start . Bread based stuffing or rice? Moist or crunchy? Also – and it’s confession time here – my favourite stuffing came from a box. That is, until I tasted Apricot and Celery Stuffing.
I first had it at my mother in law’s house one Christmas and loved it so much I asked for the recipe. Of course, I can never leave a recipe alone and after a couple of years Celery and Apricot stuffing became Celery, Apricot and Pecan Stuffing made with French bread and savoury seasonings. It’s now simply referred to as ‘that delicious stuffing you make’ and I’m often asked to bring it along to celebration dinners.
Even if you have never made stuffing or dressing before, this recipe is easy. It makes enough to serve 6, but I often double it and make a larger pan or two pans full. Because we like a bit of crunch to our stuffing the only moisture I use in this recipe is melted butter. However if you prefer a stuffing that is more moist, simply stir in a quarter cup of chicken or vegetable stock with the bread cubes before baking. With this recipe, you really can please everyone.
- ¼ cup butter
- 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 cup finely chopped celery
- 1 cup ready to eat dried apricots, cut in quarters
- ½ cup pecan halves, roughly chopped
- ½ teaspoon celery salt
- ½ teaspoon onion salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground if possible
- 2 cups cubed day old French bread (do not cut off the crusts)
- Prepare and chop all the ingredients as directed above.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (170°C).
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the chopped onion and sauté gently until it begins to soften but not brown.
- Add the celery, apricots, pecans, celery salt, onion salt and pepper.
- Stir everything together thoroughly and cook gently until the celery begins to soften.
- Grate in the nutmeg and stir.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the bread cubes.
- Transfer the mixture to a casserole pan (approximately 11 x 7 inches).
- Bake for 30 minutes or until crisp and golden on top.
- Serve warm.