Apricot and Walnut Stuffing
       

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To date, I have not been a huge fan of regular stuffing. I’ve been pretty indifferent about it. I’ll take a few bites at Thanksgiving and/or Christmas dinners, but it’s certainly not my favorite side dish in the world.

Whatever the case, I was intrigued when I saw a recipe for Apricot and Walnut Stuffing in the October issue of Saveur. I trust Saveur, and and I thought apricots and walnuts sounded like an interesting enough twist to be worth a try.

So, I set off on my quest to obtain the required ingredients. Including chicken livers. Oh, dear. I silenced my squeamish side and continued along. More on that later.

To make 8-10 servings, you will need:

  • 1 loaf of white bread, crusts removed, cut or torn into 1″ cubes
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried apples, chopped
  • 1/2 cup currants, chopped (I used golden raisins instead)
  • 12 tbs butter, divided
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 oz. chicken livers, minced (I used a food chopper)
  • 2 cups walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 tsp orange zest (all I had was tangerines – it worked)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Bake until browned, 15-20 minutes.

In the meantime, on the stovetop, boil the wine in a small saucepan. Boil for a few minutes, or until the scent of alcohol isn’t quite so strong when you sniff the “steam.” Add the dried fruit, remove from heat, and let steep for 30 minutes.

Strain the fruit into a bowl; discard the wine.

Combine the fruit with the bread in a large bowl.

Melt the butter in a 12″ skillet over medium heat. Add the celery and onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, 12 minutes.

Stir in 8 tbs butter and the chicken livers. Cook until the butter melts and the livers are browned, just a minute or two.

I’m sparing you the photograph of the uncooked livers and the mincing process. You’re welcome! If you decide to try this recipe, don’t say I didn’t warn you that working with chicken livers will require a fair amount of intestinal fortitude. No pun intended! (Yes, I laughed in real life at that.)

Combine the celery mixture in the large bowl with the bread mixture.

Add in walnuts, cream, parsley, zest, and eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.

Spray a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer the stuffing to this dish. The original recipe called to add 4 additional tbsp of butter to the top, but I omitted it (first by accident, and then on purpose because I figured there was enough butter already). Please, don’t tell Paula Deen.

Cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes.

Remove foil, increase heat to 475 degrees F, and bake until browned, 6-8 minutes.

HellOOO, there. Yum.

My husband and I both really enjoyed this stuffing. He liked the walnuts a lot, but the apricots were my favorite part.

When I make this again, I plan to:

- use half & half instead of heavy cream

- use olive oil in place of some of the butter

- use a wider, more shallow baking dish so that more surface area gets browned (Something like this Fiesta baker

The chicken livers added a unique flavor and richness, but I imagine you could omit them or possibly add in some strongly-flavored mushrooms to make this a vegetarian dish.

If you give this a try, or have had experience with any similar or unique stuffings, let me know! I’m curious to know what others think!

Also, make-ahead note: I think this could be prepared and baked for 40 minutes a day in advance, refrigerated, then baked for 10 minutes at 350 and 6 minutes at 475 when you are ready to serve.

Here’s a link to the original recipe at Saveur: Apricot and Walnut Stuffing, by Marc Maron

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