Sunday, November 13, 2011

Stuffing time already??

Seems that we’ve officially rounded the corner and are barreling towards Thanksgiving. Next up, Christmas. And as much as I adore Christmas, it’s all happening a little too fast. 

I want to enjoy November, yet my mind is already consumed with the big holiday dinners. I got a text message from Andy the other day that said, “Let’s have a fire and a glass of wine tonight.” That sounded like a fine idea and one that I desperately needed. I suspect he senses the impending craziness that will overtake the kitchen (and me) in the coming weeks. What I couldn’t believe was that we haven’t yet had a fire this season and it’s already the middle of November. Even though we don’t have the coldest fall weather here in California, we have been known to have fires in the middle of summer if the mood strikes us, just because it makes us think of fall. And we love fall. Because really, doesn’t sitting together in front of a fire on a chilly night with a glass of good red wine, a book and a cozy blanket sound like the best way to spend a few hours? Close, quiet moments are what I’m craving, before all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season gets here. I will always accept invitations like that one, no matter the season or weather. 

Back to reality where I’m in test kitchen mode…we traditionally serve turkey for Thanksgiving, which I’ve waxed poetic about before. Seriously, just thinking about my dad’s barbecued turkey gives a happy, fuzzy feeling inside. Love isn’t a strong enough word for what I feel for that turkey. Oh…excuse me while I wipe up my drool… 

Okay, so one thing that doesn’t happen with our turkey is stuffing. We’re not a stuffing-in-the-bird kind of family. Our stuffing gets baked to crispy perfection in the oven. Does that make it dressing? It’s always been stuffing to me. 

Last year I made Spicy Ginger Stuffing and wanted to go a different way this year. When I was asked to create a Thanksgiving recipe for Smart & Final this week using one of their sale items, it was the perfect opportunity to test a new dish. And after I saw that spiral sliced ham was on the list, I instantly knew what would go into my stuffing. 

Add this sweet and salty stuffing dish to your Thanksgiving table this year…it’s the perfect complement to turkey. 

Stuffing with Ham, Apple and Gruyere Cheese

Serves 8-10 

Prep time: 35 minutes; Cook time: 30-35 minutes

6 cups diced French bread
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use (plus extra to butter dish)
3/4 cup chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups diced peeled apples
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups diced Farmer John spiral sliced ham
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese, divided use
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup cream 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Spread bread on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, until dry and toasted. Remove and reserve in a large mixing bowl. 

In a large pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat and sauté shallots until soft and starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic; cook 30 seconds. Add apples, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper. Stir well and let apples cook about 10 minutes, until slightly soft. Add ham and heat through for 5 minutes. Just before taking the pan off the heat, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into the ham mixture. Remove from heat and add to bread. Stir well to combine, then stir in 1/2 cup cheese.

Heat chicken broth and cream in a small saucepan just to a simmer.

Butter baking dish (approximately 13” x 9”).

Pour liquid over stuffing mixture and combine well. Pour into baking dish. Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. 

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until top and edges are crisp and slightly brown. 

Note: Stuffing can be prepared ahead. Refrigerate combined bread and ham mixture, then continue with broth step when ready to serve. 

If you’re a fan of sweet and salty combinations, this is the stuffing for your holiday dinner. The traditional sweetened ham glaze is mimicked with the addition of the brown sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon, but the saltiness of the ham comes through. Apples give an added bit of tart-sweetness and the Gruyere cheese adds nuttiness. (And be warned: there may be fighting over the crispy edges.) 

Slowly but surely items are being ticked off the Thanksgiving menu to-do list. Maybe there’s time to sneak in another fire or two before the big day. I’m determined to slow November down somehow! 

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for #collectivebias. All opinions are my own.


  1. Love this! I was looking for a stuffing recipe that doesn't call for a boxed mix, and I think I've found it. Thanks!

  2. I always love much more delicious.

  3. Wow...I could just kick back in front of the fire with nothing but a bowl of this stuffing (ok..and a glass of wine)...and be so content! I love fruit in stuffing...but the gruyere and ham....who needs the turkey?! Wonderful!

  4. I've never used cheese in my stuffing, but this combination of Gruyere and apples sounds amazing! Great timing for all of us pondering our turkey day menus :)

  5. This sounds like a totally delicious stuffing (and yes, I call it stuffing too, in or out of the bird :-P ). I like to make some new things along with all the traditional stuff(ings? hehe) and this is most likely going on the list. Thanks!
    And buzzed!

  6. Wow, this sounds like such a gorgeously fancy version of stuffing :) Gruyere is one of my big loves, I'll have to try this sometime!

  7. Beautifully done. I love the Gruyere addition to the stuffing. Nice touch!

  8. Your stuffing looks really yummy! Here in Texas, you're in big trouble if you don't make cornbread dressing. There are lots of variations out there, but it pretty much has to be cornbread. I think it might be a law here :)!

  9. Stuffing is my all time favorite thing at Thanksgiving and I love what you did here! This is so different that the ones I've had before with the cheese, ham and spices. I need to try this!

  10. I can't believe you have a real fireplace in Cali and I have none and I live in New England. No fair! But this stuffing looks so good. Remember to take a breather and enjoy the process of cooking and baking in the days that lead up to the holiday!

  11. This stuffing does look crispy! I like it. It's a nice change to the regular turkey, *plus*, you get to pick the "just right" ration of stuffing and meat you want at every bite :)

  12. I'm ready for stuffing!! Looks delicious!!

  13. Your stuffing sounds really good! You just made me wish it's Thanksgiving Day already!!!

  14. Yummm!! This looks so delicious! Thanks for sharing your fun recipe.

  15. Stuffing time is my favorite time! It's the best part about Thanksgiving...yum!

  16. Okay, not fair, now I am hungry! Stuffing is my favorite part of turkey day!

  17. Oh I love the gruyere in this! Your stuffing sounds so delicious!

  18. This looks delicious! Very creative, too.

  19. I ready stuffing with yours recipe, thanks tjat looks so delicious.