This tasty rutabaga, date and bacon stuffing is not your average dry, bread-heavy affair. It has a lovely mix of sweet and savory flavors, is juicy and rich, and the perfect accompaniment to a festive dinner.
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I mentioned when I shared my pear, cranberry and sausage stuffing that we always had a number of stuffings to choose from at our Christmas dinner. They would change every year or so as my mum found a new recipe she liked the look of, but some stayed.
Stuffing doesn't appear to be quite such a consistent feature of the US Thanksgiving table as it is the UK Christmas one. I've yet to fully dig in to why, but it may be partly that casseroles and bread are often there instead.
However personally, I think they are worth making the effort and finding space for. This delicious combination is definitely a case in point. It was an instant hit with my taste-testers and has been repeated in our house a few times since.
Key elements of stuffing
Stuffing is one of those things that has a few common basic ingredients with a broad range of variations, from the fairly dull bought versions to basically whatever your creative streak can come up with or you feel like trying.
Most stuffing recipes include onion, breadcrumbs, some form of fat and usually egg to help hold it all together. Then they can have any of a range of meat - often sausage or bacon - root vegetables, dried or sometimes fresh fruit, herbs and sometimes nuts to create a range of different flavors.
This recipe brings together a mix of a lot of the best things in stuffing, in my view. It's both sweet and savory, a moist flavorful mixture with a slight crunch on the top. Plus, it brings in some of the tastes of the season. I would suggest trying to get a decent quality bacon as the taste will filter through.
Rutabaga, or swede as it is known in the UK (or turnip, slightly confusingly, in Scotland where I grew up) is a vegetable that I think is a little underused. That may be because it has a pretty mild, mellow flavor itself. However it partners really well with maple syrup and is great combined with savory flavors too, as here.
How to make this rutabaga, date and bacon stuffing
This stuffing is really pretty easy to make. While it might seem like it takes a little time, most of that is cooking in the oven. All you do is:
- Start cooking the bacon so it renders some fat.
- Add the onion and garlic and soften.
- Add the rutabaga and soften that as well.
- Stir through the herbs, cook another few minutes then remove from heat.
- Add the egg, breadcrumbs, dates and maple syrup and mix all well.
- Press into a baking dish and bake until golden on top.
If you have any left over, it's delicious cold either as part of a leftovers plate or as a tasty addition to a sandwich. It makes a very child-friendly food as well. Who can resist it being both easy to eat and nicely sweet (but don't tell them in a fairly good way, if you forget about the bacon).
Stuffing in general, and certainly this rutabaga, date and bacon stuffing, is good enough to make more than once a year, it is strange we rarely do. But I know I will make this one again soon, it's that good. So why not join me and just find any old excuse to make it and enjoy.
Try these other Holiday side dish ideas:
- Butternut squash wild rice salad with cranberries and fennel
- Vegan lentil salad with roasted Brussels sprouts, grapes and mushrooms
- Acorn squash and Brussels sprout side dish
- Jerusalem artichoke and persimmon stuffing
- Plus get more Holiday ideas in the archives.
Rutabega, date and bacon stuffing
- 1 tsp oil approx
- 8 oz smoked bacon 225g, streaky
- 1 onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 10 oz rutabaga 300g swede, 3 cups grated
- 4 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh sage chopped
- ½ tbsp fresh thyme chopped, or 1tsp dried
- 1 cup breadcrumbs approx 60g/2oz
- 3 ½ oz dates 100g pitted weight, roughly chopped (medjool best)
- 1 egg beaten
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.
- Warm a little oil in a shallow pan over a medium heat and add the roughly chopped bacon. Cook for around 10min, stirring occasionally, until the fat has rendered and it is just starting to brown.
- Add the onion and garlic and cook until starting to soften, around 5min, stirring occasionally.
- Add the rutabaga/swede and cook another 5min, stirring to allow all of the vegetables to soften and be coated in the bacon fat.
- Next add the chopped parsley, sage, thyme and a little salt and pepper, cook for another 5min and remove from the heat.
- Finally, add the breadcrumbs, dates, egg and maple syrup, stir well so everything is mixed through then transfer to a medium oven dish (approx 8x6in/20x15cm) and pack down gently.
- Roast in the oven around 40min until nicely browned on the top.
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