Today I made one last Thanksgiving dish to share here that combines tart dried cranberries, mellow butternut squash, sweet apple, and a sage-parsley-thyme seasoning. It turned out so colorful, aromatic, and flavorful that I think this will be a new traditional dish for us. I’m not sure there will be any left for tomorrow’s festivities! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Butternut Squash, Apple & Cranberry Stuffing
- 1 loaf of dense, crusty bread (1 or 2 day-old flat Italian white loaf is best)
- 1 butternut squash
- olive oil, salt & pepper for roasting squash
- 1 stick butter
- 1 large yellow or white onion
- 2 stalks celery with leaves
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 Granny Smith apples
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 4 sage leaves
- 4 thyme branches
- 1 bunch parsley
- approximately 1 cup chicken stock, warmed (varies depending on amount of bread your loaf yields)
- salt & pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Cut the stem off the butternut squash, use a peeler to remove the skin, and chop the squash into 1-inch chunks. Coat lightly with olive oil, season with salt & pepper, and roast in a roasting dish for 20-25 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes, spread across a baking sheet in one layer (no oil) and toast at 350 F/180 C for 10-15 minutes, until crisp. Set aside.
3. Chop the onion and celery into a small dice and mince the garlic clove. Butter a 9 x 13-inch roasting dish and set aside. Heat the remaining butter (of 1 stick) in a sauté pan over medium heat and add the onion, celery (with the leaves, chopped) and garlic and cook until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Peel and chop the apples into cubes slightly smaller than the 1-inch squash cubes, and add those to the pan. Add the cranberries and stir, letting the cranberries plump up with the moisture. Finely chop the sage leaves and parsley and add to the pan, along with the leaves from the thyme branches.
4. When the mixture is softened and reduced after about 8 minutes of cooking, add the roasted butternut squash, carefully blending without smashing the vegetables. Add as many of the toasted bread cubes as can fit in the pan and mix to coat with butter & veggies (they will reduce in size after a couple minutes and you can add more bread cubes). Slowly add some of the chicken stock as you mix, and cook on low heat an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Transfer to a large bowl and combine with all the remaining bread cubes and slowly drizzle in more broth as you mix gently (bread cubes should get slightly moist and softened but not mushy).
5. Transfer mixture to the buttered roasting pan, spreading it out gently & evenly. Cover with parchment paper and then aluminum foil and cook at 350 F/180 C for 25 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook until crisped on top and edges, about 20 more minutes. Keep warm or rewarm when ready to serve.