As a kid, my Thanksgiving plate was basically white — turkey breast, mashed potatoes, and a dinner roll. It’s not that my family didn’t have more choices on the table, it’s that my midwestern palate just never got very developed. I never ate the cranberries, the gravy or the stuffing. Being the baby of the family, my parents never forced me to try things I didn’t want to try, so my experience with food was limited, at best.
When I met my husband, he immediately introduced me to tons of foods I’d never tried. On our first date, he took me out for sushi and saki. For our first Thanksgiving together, he made cornbread stuffing, collard greens cooked with ham hock, real deal mac and cheese and homemade sweet potato pie. I was floored. You’re telling me, I missed all this great food all these Thanksgivings, sticking to my boring white (mostly starchy) plate?
For the past ten years we’ve been together, we’ve tinkered with different Thanksgiving recipes and menus but always go back to some of our old faithfuls. This year, I wanted to try a new stuffing recipe, just for something different. To come up with a recipe, I first decided to use sourdough. I love it’s sour note and thought it would pair well with the earthiness of mushrooms. I combined a couple of recipes to come up with this sourdough stuffing with leeks and mushrooms.
It’s a fairly easy recipe, even for novice cooks. I cooked mine in ramekins and an 8×8 inch pan for two reasons. First, it just looks pretty in ramekins and they are perfect portions. Second, I like the different textures you get. The ramekin servings are drier and the pan portions are much more moist. I personally love how it tastes both ways, but sometimes I just prefer drier foods, so the ramekin servings work great for my taste preferences.
The mushrooms and leeks taste rich against the sourdough. My favorite part about this recipe is that it doesn’t feel very heavy because there isn’t that much fat in it. I had considered adding pancetta for a little more savory punch, and I think it would have worked well with the other ingredients. If you prefer a denser and heavier stuffing, I would suggest adding 1/2 pound of meat, like bacon or sausage.
But I love that this stuffing is light—it’s unlike most stuffing I’ve eaten where I feel really weighed down after eating it. If you are looking for a stuffing recipe, you should give this a try. It’s just a bit outside the norm and people will be surprised they’re eating leeks.
Sourdough Stuffing With Leeks and Mushrooms
1 loaf sourdough bread, cubed (about 10 oz)
3-4 leeks, cut in half and sliced (white and pale parts only)
10 oz. mushrooms, sliced
10 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves stripped from the stems
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch of green onions, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Place the cubed sourdough bread onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the bread is toasted and just golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the butter and olive oil and let the butter melt. Add the leeks, mushrooms, and thyme to the skillet and sauté for 6-7 minutes, until tender. Add two more tablespoons of butter, green onions, and garlic and sauté for 1 minute more. Season generously with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, parmesan cheese and 2 cups of chicken stock. Once combined, add the toasted bread and the leek and mushroom mixture. Stir gently to combine. If the bread still looks dry, add a ½ cup of chicken stock at a time until the bread is fairly moist. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the mixture into a greased baking dish. You can use an 8×8 and ramekins like I did, or use a large baking dish, about 12 x 8. Cover your selected dish with a piece of foil.
Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes, until the top is starting to brown. Remove from oven and serve immediately. You can sprinkle with fresh thyme and freshly grated parmesan like I did, or not.