Whole Grain Stuffing With Fennel And Cranberries

Tart pickled cranberries bring color and balance to this sumptuous, cream-enriched stuffing. This recipe requires dried bread cubes. To make them, spread fresh cubed bread out on a cookie sheet overnight, or bake in a low oven (275 degrees) until dry, tossing a few times, about 45 minutes.

Serves 8

Unsalted butter, for dish
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced (2½ cups)
1 large fennel bulb (1 pound), chopped, fronds reserved (about 2 cups)
4 stalks celery, diced (1 cup)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock, plus more as needed
2 cups drained Pickled Cranberries
1 cup (1 ounces) packed parsley leaves, chopped
8 to 10 sage leaves, thinly sliced
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf (1 pound) whole grain bread, cut into ¾-inch cubes (about 8 cups) and dried
2 eggs, lightly beaten

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart baking dish.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add onion, fennel, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and lightly golden, about 12 minutes. Add cream and stock and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add cranberries, parsley, sage, and pepper. 

3. In a large bowl, mix the dried bread, eggs, and cream mixture thoroughly. If the bread is not moistened all the way through, add more stock, ¼ cup at a time (see note). Transfer to baking dish and bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Cool slightly and top with reserved fennel fronds.

Note: After adding stock to stuffing, let rest 5 minutes, tilt bowl, and use a wooden spoon to shift a bit of stuffing from bottom of bowl. If a couple of tablespoons of liquid pools, you’re good to go. If not, stir in more stock, ¼ cup at a time, let rest, and do the pooling test again.