The day after Thanksgiving in the US is possibly a bit late to be reminding people that stale bread makes great stuffing, but I’m here to do it anyway. My responsibilities for Thanksgiving dinner here were gravy and stuffing. I didn’t buy boxes of stuffing mix this year, I just took all the old ends of loaves in the house over the last couple of weeks and cut them up. I was planning to bake them on low heat to dry them out, but then I remembered that I’d be adding liquid to soften the bread up again and decided to just freeze the cut-up bread instead.
I don’t use an actual recipe for stuffing, I just kind of throw it together. Many years ago I got served apricot sausage stuffing made with chopped-up dried apricots, and it was pretty good but I thought apples would be better than the apricots were. Ever since, I’ve been making apple sausage stuffing.
So here’s how I do it. I used about a gallon bag of bread cubes, one apple, half a pound of breakfast sausage, and three-quarters of an onion. When The Baker prepped the turkey for baking, I took the spine and the innards and boiled them with water, bay leaves, salt and pepper to make broth. I cut the onion up into chunky bits and sauteed them in butter until they were transparent and soft. Cook the sausage until done. Chop the apple into half-centimeter dice (0r so, I’m never exact about these things). I didn’t sautee them, but the end result was crunchier than I liked so I’ll do that next time. Once the onions and sausage were done, I put the bread into a big bowl and mixed in the apples, sausage, and onions. I minced a handful of fresh sage from the garden and mixed that in, along with salt and pepper. Pour over about two cups of broth (I’ve also used sparkling apple cider before), and mix it all up. I use my hands, but spoons work too. Put it all in an oven-proof baking dish with a lid, and bake in the oven until it’s all warm on the inside. Take the lid off for the last ten-fifteen minutes for a crunchy top. I think I baked mine for about half an hour.
It got thumbs up from everyone who had some. I’d have liked it a bit more cooked, and I really do prefer it cooked in the bird, but our bird was butterflied. You can mix this up however you want. Use different kinds of bread or oysters, mushrooms, other kinds of fruit in place of the sausage and apples. It all depends on what you like.
I found another recipe that uses stale bread: baked apple french toast from Confessions of a Tart. It’s kind of a cross between french toast and a sweet version of strata, and it looks delicious. She says to either toast the bread or leave it on the counter for a few hours to get stale, so it’d work well with already stale bread. And I bet it would be delicious with pears instead of apples.
One more recipe for stale bread: British bread sauce. This is similar to American stuffing, but it’s a medieval recipe and much more liquid than stuffing. I had it when I went to school in the UK, and it’s tasty stuff. I also found Nigella Lawson’s recipe, which looks a little more involved. She also says to leave the bread out to go stale if it isn’t already. Bread sauce should resemble “a creamy, nubbly porridge in the pot” (Nigella) rather than the thick bready stuffing I’m used to. I didn’t know what to make of it the first time I had it, being used to the drier American stuffing version, but it is good.
I keep finding new uses for stale bread. And if you don’t feel like making anything but you have bread sitting around going hard and dry, stick it in a plastic bag in the freezer. Then you’ll have some around when you need it.