By Dianne Bunis
Call it dressing because it's cooked on its own, whereas a stuffed turkey would have to cook to 165°F degrees to prevent any chance of salmonella, thus causing the stuffing to dry out. The day before Thanksgiving, prepare the bread chunks and leave out overnight to dry. The dressing can be assembled for baking the next day while the turkey is baking.
Pear, chestnut and sage dressing, serves 10-12
1 loaf rustic country bread
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 Bosc pear, cored and chopped
1 cup peeled steamed or roasted chestnuts, chopped
1 cup fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Tear the bread into 1/2-inch chunks, spread on a baking sheet and leave out to dry overnight.
Preheat oven to 375°F and butter a large, shallow baking dish, set aside. Melt the 1 tbsp of butter in a large pan over med-low heat, add the onion, carrot, celery and pear and sauté, stirring occasionally until tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl adding the chestnuts, parsley, sage, melted butter, broth, salt and pepper and stir to mix. Spoon the dressing into the prepared baking dish and bake uncovered until the top is golden and crisp, about one one hour.
Note: Just before roasting the turkey, fill the body loosely with large chunks of onion, one carrot cut into fourths, fresh sage leaves and a cut celery stalk including the top leaves to add flavor. Discard the vegetables before carving and serving.