Thursday, November 13, 2008

Goat Cheese, Panchetta & Cranberry Stuffing

YUM. That's about all I can say about this stuffing. Oh yeah - and GOAT CHEESE. I love goat cheese. A couple years ago, my brother in law and his girlfriend made this when they had us over for Christmas Day dinner. It had cherries and hazelnuts in it, making it a little more "Christmas-y," but I changed it up last Thanksgiving and made it with cranberries and walnuts instead, and I liked it even better.

Pancetta is a thinly sliced, Italian ham. Sometimes you can find it prepackaged in the gourmet food aisle. If not, the deli counter usually has it. I tried to cut corners once, and made the stuffing without toasting the bread crumbs first. (I thought my 2 day old loaf of bread was dried out enough) Mistake! It turned out way too wet. So don't do as I did. Take the time to follow all the steps correctly and it will turn out delicious!

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 (1-pound) loaf crusty country-style white bread
1/4 cup olive oil
4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 large garlic cloves, minced

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced celery
1 1/4 cups chopped pancetta
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 3/4 cups chicken broth or turkey stock, heated
8 ounces chilled fresh goat cheese, crumbled into 1/2-inch pieces

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Place cranberries in bowl; cover with apple juice and microwave on high for 1 minute. Let stand until soft, about 15 minutes. Drain.

Cut bread with crust into 1-inch cubes (10 cups loosely packed). Place in large bowl.
Add oil, thyme, and garlic; toss.
Spread out on large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake until golden and slightly crunchy, stirring often, about 20 minutes.
Return to same large bowl.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add next 3 ingredients.
Sauté until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Mix in parsley and cranberries.

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Butter an 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish.
Stir vegetables and nuts into bread cubes. Add hot broth, tossing to coat.
Mix in the cheese and then transfer to the baking dish.
Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down.
Bake until heated through, about 25 minutes.
Uncover and bake until top is brown, about 25 minutes longer.


CLICK HERE to visit Bringing Up Burns and read my Thankful Thursdays post. You'll meet another amazing woman trying to keep Thanksgiving in her heart and home all year through!

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