The problem with both of those methods is that only some of the stuffing gets deliciously crisp; the rest tends to be mushy. Our solution? Don’t cook it in the oven at all.
Instead, we mix together a basic brioche, cranberry and pancetta stuffing. But instead of cooking it right away, we refrigerate it until it is firm and is easily cut. We then fry those cut pieces of stuffing on the stovetop with a bit of butter. The result is that every serving of stuffing is crisp outside and tender inside.
PAN-FRIED CRANBERRY PANCETTA STUFFING
Start to finish: 2 1/2 hours (30 minutes active)
6 ounces pancetta, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped capers
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
8 cups cubed brioche
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken or turkey broth
3/4 cup chopped dried cranberries
3 tablespoons butter, divided
Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment or waxed paper, leaving an overhang on the edges of the pan.
In a large saute pan over medium heat, cook the pancetta until crispy, about 8 minutes. Add the capers and sage and continue to cook until crispy and lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the brioche and cook until lightly toasted. Remove the pan from the heat.
In a small bowl, whisk together the broth and the eggs. Stir the broth mixture and the cranberries into the brioche mixture. Spoon into the prepared pan. Press the brioche mixture to create an even layer. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Using the overhanging paper as handles, lift the stuffing in a single block from the pan and set on a cutting board. Cut the stuffing into 16 pieces.
In a large skillet over medium-high, melt half of the butter. Set 8 of the stuffing pieces into the pan and fry for 3 minutes per side, or until golden and crispy. Transfer to a plate, then repeat with remaining butter and stuffing. Finished stuffing can be kept warm in a 200 degree oven.