While any dressing/stuffing that includes the name stovetop more often than not conjures the box-mixed shortcut we alternately groan or rave over, this stovetop refers to the quicker, easier way to prepare our holiday meals’ must-have side dish. I prepared this on the fly, without a recipe in mind when I arrived, but simply inspired by the embarrassment of riches of market vendors and the freshest ingredients in season and available at the Texas Farmers Markets this weekend. It was a big hit. You may be here after finding my website address at the market, in fact, and if you did, thank you and welcome!
Regarding the dressing/stuffing controversy– in my mind, dressing is any bread or grain-based side that is served with the meal in a separate dish, and stuffing is the same preparation, used to stuff a bird. I like my dressing a little more ‘crusty’, so I skip stuffing the bird with it (using apple, lemon, onion, and fresh herbs for that ‘stuffing’ in the internal cavity), and let it crisp up a bit in the pan. For an extra crisp on top, prepare your stovetop dressing in an ovenproof skillet, and slide it under the broiler for a few minutes just prior to serving.
Have you a vegan or vegetarian coming to the holiday dinner? This is easily transformed to a meatless choice by using a good vegetable broth as a substitute for the turkey bone broth.
Want to skip the big bird altogether, or simply add more meat to the meal? A pound or so of good, thick cut bacon or smoked pork could be added. Simply render the fat from either choice in the skillet, reduce or skip the olive oil altogether according to the amount of fat rendered, and proceed with the recipe as written.
FARMERS MARKET FAVORITE | HOLIDAY MARKET STOVETOP DRESSING
2T extra virgin olive oil
1 small bulb fennel, sliced thinly (see notes, below)
1 bunch scallions, sliced thinly
1 small sweet potato, sliced thin, skins on (yield about 2 cups slices)
1 cup firmly packed shiitake mushrooms, caps sliced (stems reserved, see notes, below)
1 cup Buster’s Smoked Maple glazed pecans (see notes, below)
1 bunch fresh sage, leaves removed from stems (see notes, below)
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, de-stemmed, chopped fine
4 cups Miche Malt ROW bread, sliced, toasted, then torn into 1″ chunks
1 pint Fond Bouquet Garni turkey bone broth tonic
Hill Country Salt ‘Texas Wine Salt’, or salt and pepper, to taste (see notes, below)
In a large, heavy skillet over medium high heat, bring oil to a shimmer. Add fennel, scallions, sweet potato and shiitake mushrooms, one at a time, stirring frequently to brown. Reduce heat to medium and cook, covered, about 5 minutes, or until sweet potato is slightly fork tender. Add mushrooms, pecans, sage and parsley, tossing to thoroughly mix. Toss in bread chunks, then add bone broth, stirring to incorporate all. Cover, cook on medium heat until all is well combined and stock has reduced and been absorbed by bread and vegetables. Season to taste with seasoning salt, or salt and pepper, as desired.
Optional: For a crusty top finish, slide the pan, uncovered, under the broiler until tops are crusty and browned (but just a few minutes!)
Get out there and go hug a farmer, y’all. Gently, because they’ll be a little sore from all that planting and harvesting, you know.
I used Buster’s Smoked Maple pecans and it added so much holiday flavor to the mix that the final product would be quite different without them. You can use any pecans you wish, but I encourage you to seek them out! In a pinch, plain pecans, and a drizzle of maple syrup could be substituted, and the smoky flavor might be duplicated by a little smoked pork of some sort, added at the beginning when browning the vegetables.
I keep a container in my freezer for odds and ends I’ll collect for stock-making. These shiitake stems are a little tough, so I’ll reserve them in that bag, along with many of the fresh herb stems, the fennel stems, and sweet potato and onion ends. The fennel fronds are too delicate to freeze, but they can be dried and used for a delicate tea or stored to use as a substitute for anise in baked goods.
I love the smell of sage. Instead of tossing those sage stems out, I might simmer them in a pan of water to fragrance the kitchen, or toss them into the warm oven for a few minutes between dishes. They are strong, so a little goes a long way, but they might be a nice addition to your stock making, too.
Miche Bread is a local community-supported bakery using the heirloom flours of local Barton Springs Mill to create veritable bread artistry. I used their Malt ROW (rye, oat, wheat flours) bread which utilized spent hops in their mix. While any good, whole grain bread will do in a pinch, do search for the best, chewy crusted artisan loaf you can find, if you’re not fortunate enough to have Miche Bread available. I try to include a piece of crust with each large cube when I’m tearing the loaf for dressing/stuffing.
I cannot say enough great things about Fond Bone Broth Tonics. Besides the soul-satisfying, health-supporting habit of consuming these flavorful tonics daily (anti-inflammatory! digestive support! bone building! all the good things!), I’ve come to rely on them for the best kind of kitchen shortcuts due to their delicious flavor profiles. Later this week, find my recipe for a delicious gravy created from the same savory herbed variety I’ve used here, Bouquet Garni turkey bone broth. They are available by mail order, too. This is one amazing kitchen trick to keep up your sleeve, friends.
I keep bout a half dozen Hill Country Salt varieties in my spice cabinet and rely on them heavily to keep my food perfectly seasoned. They are available by mail order, and would make an excellent hostess gift or stocking stuffer for your favorite chefs (hint, hint).
Later this week, I’ll be making quick work of delicious gravy and a root vegetable melange on the blog for last minute holiday dinner prep because IT’S NEVER TOO LATE FOR GRAVY.