Sweet butternut squash, earthy mushrooms and leeks combine with tangy sourdough for a rich and flavorful holiday stuffing!Jump to Recipe
After hosting Thanksgiving for a couple of decades (yikes!), I have learned that some people just show up for the stuffing. There is something so comforting about the warm flavors and textures of a stuffing mixture, whether it has been baking inside a bird or not. So what is the difference between stuffing and dressing? Stuffing merely implies that the mixture of bread or grains and flavorful vegetables, fruits, nuts, etc. has been “stuffed” into a turkey, game bird, squash, or other edible vessel. Dressing is baked or cooked on its own, usually in a separate pan in the oven. I prefer not to stuff my Thanksgiving turkey, being that it is usually quite large and I want to insure even cooking throughout. Baking this Butternut Squash, Mushroom and Leek Sourdough Stuffing separately is my strategy….with a secret tip below!
I chose sourdough for this stuffing as I really like both the flavor and texture of a good sourdough bread. A crusty loaf of sourdough is dense enough to hold up really well in a stuffing mixture and gives a nice “tang” to balance the flavors of the other ingredients. I like to cube and toast my bread a couple of days in advance of making the stuffing so it is really dry and crisp. Any variety of mushroom could be used for this recipe, but I like the flavor of cremini or portobello and the earthy quality they add. Leeks also give a nice earthiness and subtle onion taste, which is enhanced by the shallot. Sage and thyme add classic holiday herbal notes and using some of the wine you intend to drink with the dish really ties the whole thing together.
For the butternut squash, I like to cut off both ends and then remove the hard rind with a heavy, sharp knife. It is then easier to cut into the flesh and remove the seeds before cubing. the butternut is tossed with olive oil, seasoned and roasted before adding to the other ingredients.
After baking, the stuffing should be crispy and golden on top, while velvety and moist on the inside. Here is the secret stuffing tip: to make this glorious dish taste as though it has been soaking up all the juices from the bird in the oven, simply save some of the pan drippings from the turkey and pour them over the top of the stuffing once it comes out!
I chose the Cannonball California Chardonnay for its profile of bright acid, a little vanilla toastiness and hints of butter and stone fruits. It is a crowd-pleasing medium-bodied wine that not only pairs perfectly with the Butternut Squash, Mushroom and Leek Sourdough Stuffing, but any number of dishes on your holiday table from turkey to buttery mashed potatoes or creamy casseroles!
Butternut Squash, Mushroom and Leek Sourdough Stuffing
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cups cubed butternut squash
- Sea salt and pepper
- 1 large leek, trimmed with green parts removed, thinly sliced crosswise
- 4 cups mixed mushrooms– cremini, button, portabella, sliced
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 4 tablespoons butter or olive oil
- 8 cups cubed sourdough bread, toasted
- 1 pint chicken or turkey broth
- 2 eggs
- Preheat oven to 425°. Spread the butternut squash on a large sheet pan and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil; season with sea salt and pepper. Place in oven and roast until golden brown and softened, stirring occasionally (about 30 minutes).
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, mushrooms and shallots and cook, stirring, until softened and mushrooms have released their liquids. Add the sage and thyme and continue to cook until mushroom juices have evaporated. Add the wine and cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, until wine is almost evaporated. Add the roasted squash and butter or olive oil to the pan, stirring to combine.
- Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Add the bread and enough broth to moisten (but not be soggy). Season with salt and pepper. Add the eggs to the mixture and toss well.
- Spoon the stuffing into an oiled 2-quart baking dish. Reduce oven temperature to 400°. Cover dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10-15 minutes or until stuffing is golden on top.
Tips for Success:
- Toast the sourdough bread a couple of days in advance so that it will be completely dried out and crispy. This will insure nice texture in the stuffing.
- Clean the leeks carefully, as they have a tendency to trap a lot of dirt inside the layers. Cut off the bulb and tough green ends and then slice lengthwise. Run water through the layers to flush out any sediment.
- This stuffing may be used in your turkey, however take note that because it contains eggs you want to make sure it reaches 165 degrees when tested with an instant read thermometer. Eggs may also be omitted for a vegan stuffing.
- SECRET TIP: To make stuffing taste as though it has been soaking up all the goodness from the bird, save some of the roast turkey drippings and pour them over your stuffing once it comes out of the oven. This will add a wonderful “just roasted” flavor!!
- The Cannonball California Chardonnay is a crowd-pleasing, holiday table-friendly white wine that aligns perfectly with the flavors of the Butternut Squash, Mushroom and Leek Sourdough Stuffing.
- Hints of butter and toasted vanilla pastry are balanced with bright acidity and fresh stone fruit flavors that cut through the richness of the stuffing.
- The light to medium body of the wine and delicate flavors allows it to pair well with everything from turkey to mashed potatoes and creamy casseroles.