Side Dish Challenge: Pancetta and Leek Stuffing


I'm proud to say my first time attempting stuffing and it was a true success!  The flavors were so great together and it definitely wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be.  Man, cutting up all that bread, though, that was tough stuff!  I'm thrilled to present the first recipe to come from "The BEST Thanksgiving Side Dish" Challenge, from the Elite Eight round, number one seed in the "grains" cateogry: Savory Stuffing!

What You'll Need:
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 4 oz. pancetta, diced
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, I like shiitake!, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups leeks, thinly sliced
  • 6 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 loaf bread, diced in small pieces (~20 oz.)
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme

1.  Heat butter over medium-high heat and add pancetta to your stock pot.  Saute pancetta until crisp and fat has rendered.  Add mushrooms, leeks, and celery to pan and cook until mushrooms are soft.  Salt and pepper as desired. 

2.  When vegetables are semi-soft, add white wine a deglaze your pot.  Then, add your chicken stock and simmer on medium-low for about 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, enjoy the tedious task of cutting your bread into small cubes.  ::Feels like hours passed:: I used the whole loaf of bread, crusts included to try to get a nice crunch when it comes out of the oven.  Reserve in large bowl.

4.  Beat 4 eggs in a bowl, and temper.  Tempering is adding a hot liquid to eggs while whisking to prevent them from scrambling in your dish.  Besides cutting the bread, this is the next hardest.  Try whisking and ladeling boiling liquid to eggs, making sure they don't scramble.  Whew!  When you eggs hit room temperature, pour over bread and toss to coat generously.

5.  Mix your wet ingredients with the bread and mix thoroughly.  Add your salt, pepper, and thyme. Transfer to a baking dish and bake on 400 degrees for about 35 minutes, until the top of the bread is golden brown.  Enjoy!


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