Although it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a turkey, everyone knows that it’s the side dishes that steal the show. A case in point: this hearty stuffing, which gets tons of flavor from the addition of bacon and a pop of color from bright green kale. If you’re worried about having enough prep time on the big day, you can chop the kale and celery the day before and refrigerate them in sealable plastic bags. The bread cubes can also be toasted in advance, then stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Bacon and Kale Stuffing
- Unsalted butter for greasing
- 1 large loaf (about 1 lb./500 g) coarse country bread, cubed (about 9 cups)
- 8 Tbs. (4 fl. oz./125 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbs. minced fresh rosemary
- 2 bunches Tuscan kale, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 lb. (500 g) bacon, coarsely chopped
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups (20 to 24 fl. oz./625 to 750 ml) chicken or turkey stock, warmed
1. Preheat an oven to 300°F (150°C). Butter a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33 cm) baking dish.
2. In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, 2 Tbs. of the olive oil and the rosemary. Toss to coat the bread evenly with the oil. Spread the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until dry and firm but not browned, 45 minutes to 1 hour (the amount of time will vary depending on the type of bread and how fresh it is). Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the bread cool to room temperature.
3. Increase the oven temperature to 375°F (190°C).
4. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the kale and salt to taste and sauté until the kale is wilted but still bright green, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the kale to a bowl and set aside.
5. In the same pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until evenly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate to drain, leaving the bacon grease in the pan.
6. Add the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil to the pan with the bacon grease. Add the onion, celery and salt and pepper to taste and sauté until the vegetables are soft and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the onion mixture to a very large bowl. Add the bread cubes and stir until thoroughly combined. Stir in the stock 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) at a time, making sure it is completely absorbed into the bread cubes and does not pool in the bottom of the bowl. Taste a bread cube; it should be moist throughout but not mushy. You may not need all of the stock. Fold in the bacon and the kale.
7. Transfer the stuffing mixture to the prepared baking dish. Cover the dish with a buttered sheet of aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is golden brown and crisp, about 25 minutes more. Let rest 10 minutes before serving. Serves 10 to 12.
Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen