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Lior Lev Sercarz
½ cup olive oil
1 cup ¼-inch dice bacon, or crumbled raw sausage meat, or diced button mushrooms
1 cup ¼-inch dice onion
1 cup ¼-inch dice celery
1 cup ¼-inch peeled and diced carrot
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons Ayala N.16 spice blend
5 ½ cups water or low sodium chicken stock
Salt and pepper
18 cups (about 1½ pounds) toasted croutons
Preheat the oven to 325°F
In a heavy-bottomed 8 quart saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the bacon and cook for about 5 minutes over medium-low heat. Increase the heat to medium, and add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and sage. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened but are still a bit firm.
Increase the heat to high and add the Ayala spice blend and water. Bring to boil, then lower the heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Note that the Ayala blend contains salt and pepper.)
Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl, soak the croutons with the broth and vegetable, mixing carefully so the croutons don’t fall apart. Transfer the croutons and vegetables to a greased 9-by-12-inch baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake for an additional 20 minutes until golden brown on top.
You can prepare this recipe a day in advance. Store the unbaked stuffing in the refrigerator. Remove it from the fridge and bring it to room temperature, about an hour. Bake as directed.
• You may substitute half of the croutons with cornbread croutons.