Maitake, Leek & Bacon Dressing
If you had told me a year ago if I’d dream of a Thanksgiving stuffing made with mushrooms, I would have called you crazy. I’ve long had a thing against mushrooms (sorry), but that thing changed the moment I threw a handful of weird-looking chopped-up maitake mushrooms to a hot pan for a chicken recipe and smelled that smell. It was rich, nutty, irresistible.
Since I’m not in charge of the Thanksgiving dressing at our party–we make my grandma’s delicious recipe, which has both bread and chestnuts–I haven’t created any stuffings or dressings. Yet once I realized how simple the whole deal was–stuffing is just a delightful carb, meant to offset rich turkey skin and gravy–I had the best time layering rich challah cubes with as much flavor as my pantry and fridge could muster. Though bacon and those elegant maitakes co-star, leeks are a serious contender for best supporting player. Their saucy richness helps tie the bread, vegetables, and meat together.
If you plan to tote this dressing to someone else’s event, you can make it in advance up until the second half of the baking. Contribute it to someone else’s party covered in foil, then have your host reheat it til the top browns–the precise oven temperature and timing are less important than the browning.
I’ll have one more Thanksgiving idea for you on Monday. Stay tuned! (Here’s what we’ve covered so far.)
P.S. If Stove Top is your thing, have I got ideas for you! See them here.
- 1 loaf challah
- 8 ounces bacon
- 2 leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise and sliced into half moons
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 tablespoons white wine
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- pinch dried thyme
- pinch dried rosemary
- Olive oil
- 8 ounces maitake mushrooms (also known as hen of the woods)
- 2 to 3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Several hours ahead of time, or even the night before, slice the challah. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and let dry at room temperature, turning occasionally. You want it to get stale.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Take out two big frying pans. Set one over medium high heat and add the bacon. Cook until crisp, turning once, then remove to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Lower the heat to medium, then add the leeks and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 15 minutes. Add the white wine and cook until reduced, then throw in the parsley, rosemary, thyme, and a ½ teaspoon of salt and remove from the heat.
- Meanwhile, set the second pan over high heat. When hot, film with oil and add half of the maitakes, breaking them up as you go. Don't stir until the bottoms get crisp, 3 to 4 minutes, then continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have shrunk considerably, are quite browned, and smell amazing. Salt well. Transfer to a large bowl, then add a little more oil to the pan and cook the second half of the maitakes the same way. Salt again, then add to the bowl.
- When it's done, put the leek and celery mixture in the big bowl too. Cut the stale challah into cubes, and add that too. Break the bacon up into small pieces, and put them in the bowl. Toss to evenly distribute bread, bacon, mushrooms, and leeks, and try to get a bite that has some of each thing, so you can taste for salt, adding more if needed. Scrape into a 9-by-13 casserole pan, and pour 2 cups of stock over the top, then scatter small pieces of butter across the surface. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, then uncover the dressing. If it seems dry, add some more of the remaining stock. Return to the oven and bake another 30 minutes, until the top is crispy and brown.
This post is part of Food Network’s Fall Fest, which, this week, is about Thanksgiving sides. Here’s what other bloggers made:
The Heritage Cook: Maple Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Candied Pecans (Gluten-Free)
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: 100 Healthy Holiday Side Dish Recipes
Devour: Winning Thanksgiving Side Dishes
The Lemon Bowl: Stuffed Acorn Squash with Chorizo and Farro
The Mom 100: Lentils and Carrots with Dried Apricots
Weelicious: Vegan Whipped Coconut Sweet Potatoes
The Cultural Dish: Pumpkin Risotto
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Sweet Potato Biscuits
Red or Green: Cheese Ball with Everything Spice
Daisy at Home: Roasted Cranberry Pear Sauce
Swing Eats: Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Thyme and Rosemary
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Baby Lima Beans Salad with Bell Pepper and Pomegranate
Dishing With Divya: Ash Gourd Raita
Domesticate Me: 12 Easy and Impressive Thanksgiving Sides
The Wimpy Vegetarian: Scalloped Sweet Potatoes and Apples | #FallFest
FN Dish: Colorful Thanksgiving Vegetable Sides — Fall Fest