I realize that it’s not even Halloween yet, but my brain has already jumped ahead to Thanksgiving. All I can think about is cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and stuffing. Now, this may be because I read way too many food blogs and food magazines, but I like to think it’s simply because I’m in the holiday spirit a little early!
Despite my timing, I thought I should start thinking about this year’s stuffing, and get in a practice round or two. I like to do something just a little different every year, and this time around I mixed things up in both flavor and shape.
If you’ve already done stuffing in the bird, stuffing baked in a casserole dish and stuffing in a muffin pan, try this – stuffing in mini loaf pans. If you like your stuffing a little on the drier side (like I do), these are perfect.
The small portions dry out a bit faster and leave plenty of crispy edges. You can then slice off servings and it gives a little something different to the presentation. If you happen to have any leftovers, the little loaves make fridge and freezer storing super easy.
I am way behind in my pumpkin use this year so that’s what I decided to add to the stuffing, giving it a seasonal twist. It doesn’t have to be pumpkin, though. It can be any puree of winter squash.
For the bread I used a whole wheat variety full of nuts and seeds that I get at the local Great Harvest. This made the stuffing even more flavorful! Just let the bread slices dry out over night, or you can help them along by tossing them in the toaster. Then cut them in to cubes or tear them into pieces.
The pumpkin makes the stuffing a little richer, and you’ll use less stock due to the moisture. I used a puree from a roasted pumpkin and chicken stock I made myself earlier this year.
6 to 7 cups dried bread pieces
3 tbsp unsalted butter
4 stalks celery, sliced
½ large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup pumpkin puree (or any winter squash)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/8 tsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 ½ cups unsalted chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 3 – 2×4 inch mini loaf pans with butter. Set aside.
Heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until it is melted. Add the celery, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften.
Reduce the heat slightly and stir in the pumpkin. Next add the salt, poultry seasoning, pumpkin pie spice and black pepper. Remove from the heat.
Transfer the bread pieces to a large mixing bowl. Pour in the onion and celery mixture and stir well. Next add the stock a little at a time. You can add more or less depending on how you like your stuffing. I like mine on the dry side so 1 ½ cups was all I needed.
Divide the stuffing evenly into each of the 3 loaf pans. Press down gently and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake 30-35 minutes or until the edges are brown and crispy.
Allow to cool in the pans 2-3 minutes and then remove and serve. If your family likes a lot of stuffing, cut each loaf in half which will result in 6 servings. For smaller portions cut the loaves into thirds and you can serve 9.