Sausage and Pecan Bread Stuffing

dsc_1514RECIPE #334, DAY #522

FIVE STARS

ORIGINAL RECIPE: From my years of experience, although I referenced “Bread Stuffing” from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook*

TIMING: 1 hour

DIFFICULTY: Fairly easy

TOOLS: A casserole, a deep, wide skillet, …

COOK TYPE: Stovetop and oven

HEALTH: Stuffing will not be the healthiest thing on your holiday table, but you can be proud of the vegetables and the protein. Otherwise, unless you go with a cornbread dressing, you usually end up with white flour bread and plenty of salt and butter. But it tastes amazing.

dsc_1513EXPERIENCE: Using a “stuffing” to stuff poultry has gone out of fashion. Supposedly, the stuffing lowers the temperature of the bird, which dries out the turkey and contributes to food poisoning. I will forever mourn the loss of a truly stuffed stuffing (because of its amazing depth of flavor and even tender consistency), but you can make a wonderful “stuffing” even without stuffing.

I suppose, then, that this is a dressing. And yet, “dressing” is a word that, in America, already means “salad dressing” or–if you’re crazy–something like mayonnaise. To avoid confusion, then, this will always be “stuffing” in my house. We all get it.

My extended family insisted that I keep everything “ordinary” for this Thanksgiving. (So many quotation marks in this recipe!)  They simply didn’t want any culinary surprises, which they knew I was completely capable of providing. Roast duck, anyone? With plum sauce, parnsips, and creamed greens? The stuffing was one of the only places where I changed things up so slightly that I knew no one would even care. They would just enjoy it. I just wanted to make sure the flavor was there, even without all the really-truly turkey drippings.

So, to our usual sage, onion, and celery stuffing, I added (the traditional, just not in my family) sausage, apple, and pecans. Yum!

NOTES: You could definitely try this with a heartier or healthier bread, but I think the best Thanksgiving stuffing is made with a plain, American, white bread. This year, I used Nature’s Own Butterbread.

I actually used a chicken and apple sausage, to fit with the taste theme.

You could also add a beaten egg or two to bind things together. Just add with the broth.

***

  1. Toast 1 loaf sliced white bread. Dice into 3/4-inch cubes and set aside in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Preheat oven to 400F.
  3. In a wide, deep skillet, heat 3/4 cup unsalted butter over medium heat until melted. Add 1 diced onion, 2 stalks sliced celery, and 1 diced Granny Smith apple. Sprinkle with salt and cook until veggies are tender. Add 1 tablespoon julienned sage and 1/2 tablespoon thyme.
  4. Add 3-4 diced or 1/2 pound bulk mild Italian sausage. Cook until browned. Add 1/2 cup pecans and cook for 30 seconds.
  5. Add butter with all the bits to the bread. Also add 1 cup turkey broth and plenty of salt and pepper. Stir, gently, and add more turkey broth until bread is pretty well saturated but there is no liquid in the bottom. Taste for salt and pepper.
  6. Dump stuffing into a casserole dish. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until a brown crust has formed on the top.

***

Serve with a Thanksgiving turkey, of course. Or a number of other things, in the fall and wintertime. Like roast pork. Or a whole chicken. And veggies or a winter salad.

*Recipe changed from the original.

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