This dish can be prepped the day or two before. Cooking time will be a bit longer if you’re cooking the unbaked stuffing from the fridge, so start checking for doneness at 40 minutes.
This recipe also makes a great filling for stuffed winter squash!
- 2 large (8 to 10 ounce) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, ghee, or duck fat (divided)
- 2 pounds ground pork
- 1 cup diced yellow onion (from 1/2 medium onion)
- 1 cup diced carrots (from 1 large carrot or 2 small carrots)
- 1 cup diced celery (from 2 to 3 celery stalks)
- 1/2 cup port or sweet sherry
- 2 large pears, peeled and diced
- 1 cup dried cranberries or cherries (optional – leave this out if you’re avoiding sugars)
- 1 cup chopped fresh herbs (I used 3/4 cups flat parsley and 1/4 cup mixed fresh sage, chervil, and thyme).
- 3 large eggs
Pecan crumble ingredients:
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted pecans
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, ghee, or duck fat (room temperature, if it was in the refrigerator)
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh herbs (I used mostly parsley with just a couple rosemary needles and a few thyme leaves)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 Roast the sweet potatoes: Preheat oven to 425F and line a large baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat. Toss the sweet potato cubes with 1/2 tablespoon of your cooking fat (if it is ghee or duck fat, melt it first) and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Spread them evenly on the baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, stirring the potatoes halfway through the cooking time.
When done, they should be golden brown and easily pierced with a fork.
2 Brown the meat: While sweet potatoes are roasting, melt another tablespoon of your cooking fat in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Brown the ground pork in 2 to 3 batches. Break up the pork as it cooks to make small crumbles. Cook until the meat is well-browned and no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes per batch. Add additional cooking fat as needed if the pan becomes dry.
As each batch is finished, transfer it to a large bowl with a slotted spoon.
3 Sauté the vegetables: In the same skillet used for the pork, melt a small amount (1 to 2 teaspoons) of cooking fat. Add the diced onion, carrot, and celery to the hot skillet.
Season with salt and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes or until the onions begin to turn translucent. Transfer to the bowl with the pork.
4 Deglaze the pan: Place the empty pan back over high heat and add the port. Simmer the port for about a minute, scraping up any browned bits that have gotten stuck to the bottom of the pan. Pour the port over the vegetables and pork in the bowl.
5 Heat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9x13-inch or other 3-quart baking dish.
6 Combine the stuffing ingredients: Add the roasted sweet potatoes, sautéed veggies, pears, cranberries, and herbs to the bowl with the browned meat. Mix well. Taste and add more salt, pepper, or herbs, if needed.
At this point, the stuffing can be covered and refrigerated for 1 to 2 days before cooking.
When you're ready to bake the stuffing, add the eggs and mix thoroughly to combine. Transfer the stuffing to the greased baking dish and spread into an even layer.
7 Bake the stuffing for 20 minutes, uncovered.
8 Prepare the pecan crumble topping: While the stuffing cooks, pulse all ingredients in a food processor until the mixture is crumbly. Be careful not to over process or you’ll end up with garlicky nut butter!
9 Top the stuffing with the crumble: Remove the stuffing from the oven and scatter the pecan crumble evenly over the top. Bake for 20 more minutes, uncovered. The top should be toasted and smell very fragrant. (If you're not adding the pecan crumble, just bake the stuffing for 30 minutes total.)
10 Cool and serve: Let the stuffing cool briefly before serving.