Pancetta and Sage Stuffing Muffins

6 1/2 cups of white bread, cubed (about 1 loaf)
1/2 pound pancetta, diced
1 cup yellow onion, diced (about 1 medium yellow onion)
3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 leak, cleaned and thinly sliced
5 large fresh sage leaves, chopped
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 tablespoon salt* (See note below about salt)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

1. Thoroughly butter the muffin tin and set aside.

2. In a single layer, place the bread cubes on two sheet pans and bake for 10 minutes, or until barely toasted. Remove and set aside.

3. In a large saute pan, cook the pancetta over medium-high heat, being sure to stir regularly, for about 7 minutes, or until slightly browned and crispy. Transfer to paper towels to drain. The pancetta should release a few tablespoons of grease. This is good! We'll use this to cook the vegetables. If for some reason your pancetta is super lean, you might want to add a teaspoon of unsalted butter. Bring heat down to medium, and add the diced onion, sliced celery, sliced leek, salt and pepper, and cook until all is softened and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the sage and thyme and cook just until fragrant.
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*Note about salt: If your pancetta is super salty and you're not using low-sodium broth, I'd recommend halving the salt and doing a "salt to taste" BEFORE you put in the egg (which is the last step). These two variables will affect the salt measurement tremendously. :) </em>

4. Turn off the heat and add pancetta, toasted bread crumbs and chicken broth to the vegetable mixture and toss. Do a taste test. Does it need a bit more salt? If you're all good then add the slightly beaten eggs and mix once more.

5. Using a tablespoon, transfer mounds of the stuffing mixture to each muffin tin. Be sure to tightly pack the stuffing in each of the muffin cups. This will make sure the mixture adheres to itself and the muffins don't fall apart.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until top is browned. To remove, take a butter knife and go around each of the stuffing muffins' outer edge. Using your knife, gently lift it up out of the muffin tins. Serve warm.
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