Chestnut Stuffing With Pancetta and Fennel

Recipe by Busters friend
READY IN: 1hr 30mins
SERVES: 10-12




  • Cut the crusts off the bread and tear remaining loaves into 1-inch pieces; put into a large bowl. Toss with 2/3 cup olive oil. Spread on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Toast on staggered oven shelves in a preheated 400-degree oven 12 to 15 minutes, tossing occasionally, until croutons are golden-brown and crispy on the outside but still a little soft and tender inside. Reverse baking sheets halfway through cooking time. Cool.
  • Toast the fennel seeds in a small pan over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes, shaking the pan often, until the seeds release their aroma and turn a light golden brown. Coarsely grind the seeds with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Set aside.
  • Heat a large saute pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Add remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and the pancetta. Saute 1 to 2 minutes. Turn heat down to medium, add rosemary sprigs and red-pepper flakes and cook one minute. Add onion, fennel, fennel seeds and thyme. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grindings of pepper. Saute about 8 minutes or until the vegetables are lightly caramelized. If making ahead, cool and refrigerate vegetables. Otherwise, add to the croutons and set aside.
  • Return pan to high heat and pour in white wine. Bring to a boil and reduce by three-quarters. Add chicken stock or broth and bring to a boil. Pour hot liquid over croutons and vegetables, tossing well to combine. Stir occasionally so that the liquid that settles in the bottom of the bowl can be redistributed.
  • Wipe pan out with paper towels, and return to the stove over medium heat. Swirl in 4 tablespoons butter, and when it foams, add chestnuts. Saute 4 to 5 minutes, until the chestnuts are golden and sizzling. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper; add to the stuffing. Stir to combine, and adjust seasonings if needed. Add eggs and parsley, toss well and put the stuffing into a 2 1/2 -quart casserole. Don't pile it too high — any that remains can be put into a smaller casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes in a preheated 375-degree oven. Remove foil and top stuffing with remaining butter cut into small pieces. Cook uncovered about 15 minutes or until crispy on top.