Just before Thanksgiving rolls around, I usually leave a cut-up French baguette or Italian loaf out on the counter to dry to make my own bread stuffing for the big day.
I’ve never been one for stuffing from packaged mixes.
But when I came across one that carries the name of La Brea Bakery, I just had to try it.
After all, La Brea Bakery is the Los Angeles hot spot founded by Chef Nancy Silverton that started the whole artisan bread craze in Southern California way back in 1989. If anyone was going to make a packaged stuffing mix worth bragging about, it ought to be a bakery so famous for its fabulous breads, right?
The mixes come in two varieties: “Focaccia Stuffing” and “Harvest Bread Stuffing.”
They are exclusive to Williams-Sonoma. Each box is $14 each or $24.95 for both. And each mix makes enough to feed 10 to 12 people.
I decided to break open a box of the “Harvest Bread Stuffing,” of which I recently received a sample, to taste test.
Inside, you’ll find three bags containing croutons (a mix of cracked grain bread, rosemary sage cornbread and country white), pecans, and dried cranberries.
You just need to incorporate chopped onion and celery, which needs to be sauteed, chicken or turkey stock, olive oil, and salt and pepper.
The stuffing, which does come together quickly, can be baked either inside a turkey or in a separate pan. It emerges wonderfully rustic looking with a crisp top and tender interior. You can taste marjoram, sage, and thyme. The dried cranberries add color and a nice sweetness, while the celery and pecans add lively crunch.
If you’re a made-from-scratch all-the-time kind of cook, this mix is probably not for you. But if you’re pressed for time and need a helping hand, this mix is a good way to ease the load of the hectic holiday cooking chores. And if you’ve only made stuffing from a mix, you really ought to give this one a try.
More Deliciousness from Chef Nancy Silverton: Her Recipe for Her Pizzeria Mozza Pizza Dough