Portuguese Corn Bread Stuffing Does a Turkey Good
I LOVE turkey dinner, I love stuffing and I love stuffing that has been cooked inside the turkey. I know, I know, everyone says it's best to cook it outside of the turkey, call it dressing instead and stuff the turkey with aromatics but I don't care. That's not how I roll.
I have been using Portuguese corn bread for at least 20 years or more now because it's so dense and heavy that it is the only bread that doesn't fall apart and turn to mush. It stays soft, moist and delicious but most of the bread cubes kind of retain their shape. I do tinker with it, sometimes adding nuts or chestnuts, leaving the cranberries out, changing up the pancetta or crumbled italian sausage or chorizo, leaving meat out but I try to never change up the type of bread I use if I can help it.
Portuguese Corn Bread Stuffing1 loaf portuguese corn bread
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/2 fennel bulb, finely chopped
1/4 cup butter
1 leek, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
150 g chopped pancetta with a bit of the fat
1 1/2 cups to 2 cups of chicken stock
fresh parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, savoury
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Cut up your corn bread into 1/2" cubes. Because this bread is so dense, i use a bread knife to do this instead of using my fingers to just rip it up. Either set aside overnight to dry out a bit or put it into a 300F oven in a single layer on a baking sheet until its a bit dried out - I don't like to toast it like you do with other bread, again, because it's already so dense. Leaving it out overnight is the best method.
Melt your butter in a big frying pan and saute the celery, fennel, leek and garlic until soft. Pour the contents of the pan over the bread cubes in a large bowl. In the same pan, fry the chopped pancetta until crispy and using a slotted spoon, add that to the bowl (I also slop in some of the fat - probably a tbls or two in total). Now, how much herbs you use is up to you. I use a small fistful of thyme, about five big stalks of savoury, the same amount of sage, just a couple stalks of rosemary and a big fistful of fresh, italian parsley. Maybe you don't like thyme as much as I do and prefer rosemary. Just keep tasting and adjusting, adding herbs and tossing, tasting and adjusting. Start adding the stock, tossing and adding until the bread is pretty damp but not soggy - You will most likely use between 1 1/2 cups and 2 cups. Finally, salt and pepper to taste and set aside while you prep the turkey.
I stuff my turkey and then put whatever is left in a buttered casserole dish that I heat in a 350F oven for about 45 minutes after I pull my turkey out (I let the turkey rest for about 35 or 40 minutes and then carve it and by that time, the stuffing in the oven is ready)