Rustic Bread Dressing with Fennel & Leeks

  • Prep Time:
  • 30 mins
  • Cook Time:
  • 1 hour(s)
  • 45 mins
  • Total Time:
  • 2 hour(s)
  • 15 mins

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. This recipe was first published on Nov. 5, 2020.

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

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.

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