Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Pancetta

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Every once in awhile there comes along a recipe that is so good, that even as I am eating it, I am sitting there thinking about when can I make it again. How often can I actually make this without it losing it’s charm? Well, that was what it was like with this stuffing. As we were eating it, we were talking about all the different things we could have it with. Really it could be anything, because it wasn’t stuffed in the turkey, and there is nothing in it that screams make-me-only-at-Thanksgiving. Maybe was different for you, but Thanksgiving in my midwestern home did not include pancetta and Parmesan cheese.

One thing I have to mention, I searched in vain for jars of roasted chestnuts. I went to three different grocery stores, before I finally gave up. I thought about buying whole chestnuts and roasting them, but since I have actually never roasted a chestnut, only sang about roasting them, it didn’t sound like something I wanted to attempt at Thanksgiving. So, I left them out. I didn’t even substitute anything, just left them out. But I am here to tell you that even without the chestnuts, it was amazing. This is now my stuffing recipe, forever and ever, and not just for Thanksgiving.

You can find the recipe on-line: Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Pancetta courtesy of Giada and The Food Network, you can also find it in Giada’s Family Dinners.

Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Pancetta
Serves 8-10

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
8 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 (7.4-ounce) jars roasted peeled whole chestnuts, coarsely broken
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 pound day-old ciabatta bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup (or more) canned low-salt chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, beaten to blend

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter a 15 by 10 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until crisp and golden, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a large bowl. Melt the remaining butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, rosemary, and garlic. Saute until the onions are very tender, about 12 minutes. Gently stir in the chestnuts and parsley. Transfer the onion mixture to the large bowl with the pancetta. Add the bread and Parmesan and toss to coat. Add enough broth to the stuffing mixture to moisten. Season the stuffing, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mix in the eggs.

Transfer the stuffing to the prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down, and bake until the stuffing is heated through, about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the top is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer.

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  1. says

    Mmmmm….this sounds wonderful and I can’t wait to try it. Ciabatta has become our “standard” bread at home – it’s chewy goodness has us all eating just plain bread and butter for snacking! Too bad you couldn’t find the chestnuts – our local Stop & Shop sells them in jars. I made a stuffing with them once, and they do add a very nice kind of soft crunch to things, in addition to a nice flavor. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. says

    Can’t wait to try this one…. it sounds YUMMY!! Made the Hunter’s Minestrone yesterday and it was a hit. Also having grown up in the Midwest and basically eating the same foods over and over, I swore that when I grew up and had a kitchen of my own I would always try new and different things. Your blog provides much inspiration!

  3. says

    Oh how yummy! I LOVE Giada and try many of her recipes as well. I’ll have to give this one a go. Somehow, (amazingly enough) I must have missed this episode. Anyhow, roasting chestnuts isn’t difficult. Although I can’t remember the specifics =-) I can tell you it entails poking holes in the shell and then putting them in the oven for a short time. I’m going to give this recipe a try this weekend, oooh with pork!

  4. says

    I recommend roasting chestnuts – not least because almost anything is improved by the addition of chestnuts :)

    I’m a veteran chestnut-roaster and it’s very hard to go wrong – prick the shells with a knife and then roast in the shells (I usually do it over the fire but I’m sure it’d work fine in an oven – ah, here’s a link: basically until the outsides are completely black. Do about twice as many as you think you need, because you won’t be able to tell if one or two are off until you open them at the end, and it’s not possible to have too many chestnuts – spares can be stored cold in the fridge ready for your next recipe, or eaten hot.

    Right, that does it, I’m buying chestnuts next time I go shopping – love this time of year! :)

  5. says

    It does look pretty beautiful. I might have to pop over for a bite, just to be sure!
    I shouldn’t visit when I am hungry, now I have a serious craving for ciabatta and pancetta.

  6. says

    Yes, I recall the first time I did chestnuts (living in Oregon at the time, where there were chestnuts to be had on the ground) and knowing nothing about chestnuts, I popped them into the oven to roast them, doncha know, and they exploded. End of story.

  7. says

    I always thought I was a pretty good cook, but I feel so ignorant pancetta? Ciabatta? Really? I have to google these. It looks amazing!
    The friday night pizza is sounding really, really bad right now.

  8. says

    This looks amazing and sounds totally wonderful. I love having stuffing throughout the year and have been looking for a good recipe. I can’t wait to give this one a spin. I love Giada and think she is the sweetest thing ever!!! She makes me want to cook more often. It always looks so fun and easy when she’s doing it. Thanks for sharing this and I must say you are an amazing chef as well, anytime you have an extra space at your table I’m available:)

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