Pomegranate seeds are beautiful… like little red jewels.My family had a pomegranate tree in the backyard as I was growing up, so I was used to having them every winter season. Unfortunately, this also means that I never fully appreciated them until after they weren’t as accessible. Isn’t that always how it is? Now, when I get my hands on one, I make sure to enjoy every last juicy, tart, full-of-anti-oxidants seed in the fruit.
My mom fondly referred to them as “messy red fruits” for the obvious reason of them being rather messy to open up. Since the rest of my family was afraid of the mess, my dad took great pride in making an event out of busting open 4 or 5 pomegranates at a time. He’d spread paper towels around his cutting board, make sure the world knew that he was about to embark on a valiant project, and would begin hacking and peeling away. We steered clear until he was done, at which time there would be a full bowl of pomegranate seeds for the taking… effort-free pomegranate seeds!
Fill a bowl with water, submerge the pomegranate into the water, cut it open, and then peel the membrane away from the seeds with your fingers. The seeds will float to the bottom of the bowl, the membrane pieces will float to the top, and any squirting juice will diffuse into the bowl of water. And all shall be right and good in the land of pomegranates.
Now, to the actual point of this post… stuffing.
This was my first time making stuffing from scratch- and it was surprisingly easy. Alright, not incredibly surprising considering stuffing is, well… soggy bread.
As I’ve mentioned before, I love to make use of everything in my fridge. Most of what I end up cooking is inspired by at least one ingredient that needs to be used up. The great thing about stuffing is that the bread is supposed to be dried out before the juices are added. Why would I buy a new loaf of bread when one that is a liiiiiittle past its prime would actually be better? (I’m not talking mold or anything, just to be clear! Just a little less soft than when I brought it home.)
1 loaf of bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes*
2-3 T butter
1/2 onion, chopped
2 apples, chopped into 1-inch cubes
stems from a bunch of kale, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 teaspoon each of sage, rosemary, and thyme
1/2 cup dried cranberries
16 oz chicken stock
seeds from 1/2 large pomegranate
1) To make the stuffing bread cubes, bake the bread cubes at 300 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. I let them sit out over night, as I did it the day before, but if you are going to be making your stuffing right away, you may want to bake them for 5 or 10 more minutes.
2) When the cubes are ready, brown your butter, and then drizzle most of it over your bread cubes. Use a spatula to distribute the butter throughout.
3) Saute onions and kale stems in the remaining butter for 5-7 minutes, or until the onions are soft. Stir in the spices.
4) Add the cooked veggies, chopped apple, and cranberries to the bread crumb mixture. Transfer to a baking/casserole dish (mine fit in a 2-qt), and then slowly pour the chicken broth over the cubes, stirring the cubes while you are pouring to ensure that the broth is equally wetting the bread. Depending on how big your loaf of bread was, you may need more or less chicken broth. You want the stuffing to be moist, not saturated or drippy.
5) Pop the dish into the oven at 375 for 30-45 minutes. As long as all the flavors have melded together, it should be fine. Stir in the pomegranate seeds right before serving. They will have a “seedy” bite, but I personally like this texture-feel!
*I used whole wheat bread, and not an entire loaf. This is because this is what I had… it turned out to be 5 cups of dry bread cubes. You may use any type of bread, and you may use more (or less!). Just adjust the chicken broth accordingly.