Turkey Stuffing with Leeks, Apples, and Bacon

January 3, 2013

Everyone has a different opinion on the best way to make turkey stuffing: cooked inside the turkey? Outside the turkey? White bread? Cornbread? Onions and celery? Sausage? Since our preferences are most likely based in nostalgia, my favorite stuffing is made with regular bread and cooked inside the turkey, sicne that’s the way my mom and grandma made it every Thanksgiving. I personally find that stuffing cooked in a pan always tastes like it has something missing, that the flavor is less complex. But I’m always willing to try something new, so when Cook’s Illustrated published several variations on pan stuffing in the Nov/Dec 2010 issue, I was intrigued.

This version of pan stuffing imparts turkey flavor by first searing turkey wings and then baking the stuffing with the wings on top, allowing the juices from the meat to soak into the bread. Although this adds an extra step and a few more dirty dishes, it’s completely worth it for the end result of pan stuffing that actually tastes like turkey! Which opens up the possibility to cook my very favorite Thanksgiving staple whenever I want and not be restricted to times when I can manage to cook an entire turkey. *insert gleeful laugh here*

The primary recipe in the magazine was made with sausage, but since I’m not really a fan of sausage in my stuffing but am quite fond of leeks, this variation that also included apples and bacon sounded like an excellent alternative. And what do you know, I think I may now actually prefer (this) pan stuffing to any other stuffing I’ve eaten – and that’s saying a lot. :)

Stuffing with leeks, apples, and bacon

Serves 10 to 12


  • 2  pounds (20-22 slices) hearty white sandwich bread, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 16 cups)
  • 3  pounds turkey wings, divided at joints
  • 2  teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4  pound bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 4  tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2  leeks, white and light-green parts only, washed and sliced thin
  • 3  celery ribs, chopped fine (about 1½ cups)
  • 2  teaspoons salt
  • 2  tablespoons minced fresh thyme
  • 2  tablespoons minced fresh sage
  • 1  teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2½  cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3  large eggs
  • 3  Granny smith apples, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice


  1. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat to 250 degrees F. Spread bread cubes in even layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Bake until edges have dried but centers are slightly moist (cubes should yield to pressure), 45 to 60 minutes, stirring several times during baking. Transfer to large bowl and increase oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
  2. Use tip of paring knife to poke 10 to 15 holes in each wing segment. Heat oil in 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add wings in a single layer and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 4 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer wings to medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and add bacon; cook until crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate and pour off all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat.
  4. Heat butter with rendered fat in skillet over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add leeks, celery, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened but now browned, 7 to 9 minutes. Add thyme, sage, and pepper; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 1 cup chicken broth and bring to simmer, scraping up browned bits from pan. Add vegetable mixture to bowl with dried bread and toss to combine.
  5. Grease 13-by-9-inch baking dish. In medium bowl, whisk eggs, remaining 1½ cups broth, remaining 1½ teaspoons salt, and any accumulated juices from wings until combined. Add egg/broth mixture, apples, and bacon to bread mixture and gently toss to combine; transfer to greased baking dish. Arrange wings on top of stuffing, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and place baking dish on rimmed baking sheet.
  6. Bake on lower-middle rack until thickest part of wings registers 175 degrees F on instant-read thermometer, 60 to 75 minutes. Remove foil and discard wings. Gently fluff stuffing with a fork and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.


  1. This looks so good! We are going to have to add it to our recipes for the plantation! Thank you for sharing!

    Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast

    • That’s awesome!! If you do end up making it, please let me know how you and your guests like it! :)

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