Brown Butter Apple, Leek and Jones Bacon Stuffing is a flavor-packed, gluten-free friendly stuffing recipe highlighting brown butter sauteed apples, leeks, and bacon.
Raise your hand if you cannot believe that Thanksgiving is now less than 3 weeks away?! The holiday completely snuck up on me, but now that I’m thinking about it I’m getting all kinds of excited for our family’s special holiday traditions.
Cinnamon rolls, mimosas, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, mimosas, hearts, pumpkin pie, mimosas…I’m sensing a theme here.
Anyway, it’s never too early to start thinking about your Thanksgiving day menu and I’ve got a stuffing recipe you’re definitely going to want to try. HUUUUUGE bonus? It can be made gluten-free! Oh yes, GF friends – you can have your stuffing and eat it too. Or however that works.
I don’t know about your house on Thanksgiving but at my parent’s place, where we spend the day, kitchen space is at a premium. There’s the turkey taking over the oven of course, a sizzling skillet of green beans and bacon on one side of the stove (recipe coming soon!,) vats of mashed potatoes and gravy warming on the other side, a pan of Sweet Potato Stuffed Baked Apples in the toaster oven, a punch bowl of Grandma’s Holiday Salad hogging the fridge, a pan of Party Potatoes Deluxe waiting for the turkey to stop taking over the oven, and somewhere in between is the stuffing.
Sad, soggy stuffing. Such an underrated Thanksgiving side dish. Ours is usually an afterthought. Oh yeah, somebody grab the stuffing…I guess. We pass it around the table while saying what we’re thankful for (the stuffing’s never been mentioned,) each taking a pity spoonful to appease the Thanksgiving gods. In 30+ years I have never been excited about the stuffing…until Brown Butter Apple, Leek and Jones Bacon Stuffing came into my life that is.
Oven-toasted gluten-free or regular French baguette cubes are tossed with brown butter sauteed fresh apples and sage, caramelized leeks, crisped bacon, dried cherries, and chicken broth then baked until the stuffing is creamy and fluffy on the inside and golden-brown crisp on the outside. Even better is that, beside the bread, all the stuffing components are prepped in one skillet AND they’re make ahead. Because the only thing more precious than kitchen space on Thanksgiving day is time, right?
I created this recipe for Jones Dairy Farm’s stuffing microsite Stuffing & More, which features 25+ unique stuffing recipes and cooking tips, using their thick-cut (the only kind that exists in my world) cherrywood-smoked bacon. The flavor completely permeates the stuffing giving it the most satisfying flavor. Bacon + brown butter apples + leeks = GOLD MINE, people! Jones Dairy Farm has been family-owned and operated for 125 years and in addition to the bacon I used they offer over 200 other certified gluten-free products. Love that!
Click here to get a $1.00 coupon towards a Jones Dairy Farm sausage product (also great in stuffing,) and click the link at the bottom of this post for the full recipe.
Start with 1lb baguettes. Like I said, you could use a regular crusty baguette from the bakery, or gluten-free baguettes. I’m always able to find these Against the Grain baguettes in the freezer section of my grocery store. They thaw in just 30 seconds in the microwave – yeehaw! These are the same baguettes I use to make my crosini for soups, by the way.
Slice the baguettes, whichever kind you go with, into small cubes then toast for 15-20 miunutes at 350 degrees or until golden brown and crisp. Set aside to cool completely. You can do this ahead of time, just store the toasted cubes in an airtight container or Ziplock bag.
Next prep the bacon. Like I said I used this marvelous Jones Farm Cherrywood Smoked thick-sliced bacon. It’s a consistent, high-quality bacon that has a wonderful smoky flavor.
Crisp 8 slices chopped bacon in a large skillet over medium heat then remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Remove all but 2 Tablespoons bacon grease from the skillet.
While the bacon’s crisping prep 3 small or 2 large leeks. Leeks, leeks, leeks! You’ll just need the white and light green parts only and since leeks grow through the soil, sometimes they can collect dirt between the layers. Just rinse it out if you see any.
Trim the leeks then cut in half lengthwise, and then slice.
Add the leeks to the skillet along with 2 stalks sliced celery and 1 chopped shallot, season with salt and pepper, and then saute until tender and caramelized, 10 minutes. Add 2 cloves minced garlic then saute for 1 more minute and scoop the mixture into a very large mixing bowl and set aside.
Time for those brown butter sauteed apples, muwahaha! Melt 1/4 cup butter in the skillet still over medium heat then, when it begins to foam, start swirling the butter until it turns caramel brown in color.
Add 2 peeled then chopped apples to the brown butter (Granny Smith work great, but honestly anything in your fridge is fine,) season with salt and pepper, and then saute until the apples are crisp tender, 5-7 minutes. Add 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh sage and then saute for 1 more minute.
Add the brown butter apples to the large mixing bowl with the leeks, cooked bacon, toasted baguette cubes, and 1/2 cup dried cherries then drizzle in 2 cups chicken broth and toss to coat. If you like a more moist stuffing, add up to 1/4 cup more chicken broth.
Scoop the mixture into a nonstick sprayed 9×13″ baking dish then bake for 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees or until the top is golden brown and crisp. Check after 20 minutes – if the top begins to brown too quickly, place a piece of foil gently on top then continue baking.
As I mentioned you can make all the components – toasted bread cubes, bacon, sauteed leeks, and sauteed apples ahead of time. Just store them individually in the refrigerator then toss together with the chicken broth just before baking. I do hope you enjoy this kicked-up, totally unforgettable Thanksgiving stuffing recipe this year!