This stuffing is the perfect combination of sweet and savory with some unique additions like fennel and dried pears. If you want to keep this stuffing vegetarian, you could use vegetable broth. If you want to go all out, you could also add some sweet Italian sausage when you cook the shallots and fennel.
Preheat the oven to 375˚ F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch or other 3-quart baking dish. Melt 1 stick butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and fennel; cook, stirring, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Stir in the thyme and fennel seeds and cook 1 minute. Add the broth, dried pears and chestnuts. Bring to a simmer and cook until the pears begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Whisk the eggs, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl. Add the cubed bread, then pour the broth mixture on top. Stir to coat and evenly moisten the bread. Transfer to the baking dish and dot with the remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Cover loosely with foil and bake 30 minutes, then uncover and continue baking until crisp and golden on top, about 20 more minutes.