Rustic Bread Dressing with Fennel & Leeks
This simple rustic bread dressing is full of classic Turkey Day flavor—fennel, leeks, Italian wild fennel pollen and marjoram—with a little cheesy surprise: Parmigiano-Reggiano. This King of Italian cheeses brings an umami richness to the dressing without being too overwhelmingly cheesy. This dressing is tasty on its own, but it also makes a great canvas for festive add-ins like cooked sausage, rendered cubes of pancetta and sautéed wild mushrooms—or, some chopped Fall Burgundy truffle, if you have it!
Want to turn this dressing into a stuffing? Stuff the uncooked bread and vegetables mixture into the cavity of your turkey before roasting. When the finished roasted turkey is resting, remove the stuffing, transfer to a baking dish and bake until golden brown on top and the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
Recipe, food styling and photography by Asha Loupy
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
- Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
- 8 cups rustic bread, such as sweet batard or ciabatta, cut or torn into 1-inch pieces
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and thinly sliced
- 1 medium bulb fennel, diced
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fennel fronds, chopped (optional)
- 1 tablespoon fresh marjoram, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon Wild Fennel Pollen
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 275°F.
Spread the bread pieces in a single layer on 1–2 baking sheets. Bake, stirring occasionally, until very dry, about 40–60 minutes. Remove the bread cubes from the oven and allow to cool for 5–10 minutes (this step can also be done a day ahead). Once the bread is removed from the oven, increase the temperature to 375°F.
While the bread is baking, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the fennel, leeks, one teaspoon of kosher salt and pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft and just turning translucent, about 7–10 minutes. Add the marjoram and fennel fronds and continue to cook for another minute. Remove from the heat and transfer in a large bowl, big enough to toss the dressing in, and set aside.
Add the reserved cooled bread cubes, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and remaining teaspoon of salt to the cooked vegetables and toss to combine. (If you are adding any cooked add-ins, now is the time to mix them in too.) Add the chicken stock and mix well. Transfer the dressing to a 9x13-inch baking dish and cover with a buttered piece of foil, butter side down. Bake for 30 minutes, uncover and then continue to bake until deeply golden on top, about another 20–25 minutes. Serve hot or warm.