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Best-of-the-northwest stuffing with dried cherries, hazelnuts, and oyster mushrooms
From Tom Douglas
"I always cook the stuffing separately. The bird roasts more evenly, and you get a nice crunchy crust on the stuffing. Use a sturdy, rustic loaf here, and don't be shy about letting the top get really brown and crisp. You've got plenty of gravy to soften it up."
1 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus more for buttering the pan
1 loaf coarse country bread, 1 to 1 1/4 pounds
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
1 pound oyster mushrooms, stems trimmed and coarsely chopped
2/3 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries, soaked in hot water for
15 minutes and drained
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup finely sliced fresh chives
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 cups homemade turkey or chicken stock or purchased low-sodium broth, heated
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven
Until they take on color and are fragrant, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and pour the nuts onto the center of a clean kitchen towel. Wrap the warm nuts in the towel and rub the nuts between your palms to remove as much of the thin, papery skins as possible. Pour the nuts onto a cutting board and chop them. Measure 2 /3 cup and set aside. Reserve any remaining toasted nuts for another use.
Using a serrated knife, slice both ends off of the bread loaf, then slice off the heaviest, thickest parts of the crust (remove the bottom crust plus any very thick parts or ridges from the top crust, but don't worry about removing every bit of the crust). Cut the bread into 1- to 1 1/2-inch chunks. You should have about 10 cups. Put the bread in a large bowl, drizzle with the olive oil, and toss to coat the bread chunks evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the bread on a rimmed baking sheet, place in the oven, and toast, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
In a large bowl, combine the toasted bread, mushroom-shallot mixture (use a rubber spatula to scrape all of the butter and mushroom juices from the skillet), hazelnuts, cherries, parsley, chives, thyme, and orange zest. Gradually add the stock, stirring so the bread absorbs most of the liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the stuffing in the prepared baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.
Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the top is crusty and golden, about 35 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and serve.