Ontario Apple, Bacon and Chestnut Stuffing

An always-popular rustic side dish, this stuffing reaches new heights with fresh Ontario apples, double smoked bacon and Asian water chestnuts.

1/2 lb     double smoked bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch
(5 mm) strips    250 g
4 cups    diced onion    1 L
3 cups    diced celery    750 mL
2 cups    diced mushrooms    500 mL
4     Ontario apples*, cored and diced    4
1 tbsp    chopped fresh thyme    15 mL
1 tsp    dried rubbed sage    5 mL
1/2 tsp     each salt and pepper    2 mL
2 cups    coarsely chopped water chestnuts     500 mL
8 cups    cubed whole wheat bread    2 L
2 cups    reduced-sodium chicken broth    500 mL

In large skillet, cook bacon over medium high heat until brown and crisp, about 10 minutes.  Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to large bowl.  Pour off all but 2 tbsp (25 mL) of the drippings from skillet.  Add onions and celery, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until celery is tender and onion is golden and translucent, about 10 minutes.  Add mushrooms and apples and cook 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and add to bowl with cooked bacon. Sprinkle with thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Stir in chestnuts and cubed bread until well combined. Drizzle in broth, stirring, until well moistened.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).  Arrange stuffing in a greased 13 x 9-inch (3 L) baking dish. Cover with buttered foil and bake in preheated oven until heated through, about 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is slightly crisp and golden, about 15 minutes.

Makes 10 to 12 servings.

*Variety Tip: For best results, use Ontario Empire, Cortland, Northern Spy, McIntosh, Crispin or Idared apples.

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