Thanksgiving is coming, so we’ll be posting Turkey Day related posts from now until T-day.
Let’s face it, turkey’s fine and all- a Thankgiving table doesn’t look quite the same without one- but for me it’s just the vessel that makes stuffing all the more delicious. For some reason stuffing (or “dressing” and they call it in the South) is hardly, if ever, made without turkey or on a day other than Thanksgiving. Perhaps that’s why we love it so much- it’s a once-a-year treat eaten on a day full of delicious foods.
My mom has made the same stuffing every year. I’m under the impression that her dad made it, too. It’s not one of those pretty, cranberry-filled stuffings full of color, but what it lacks in aesthetics it makes up for in taste. If you can’t find ground sausage meat (which I couldn’t when I made this a few weeks ago but is now abundant as the Holiday food arrives in stores) you can easily add a few seasonings to ground pork and make your own. Mushroom and sage give it an earthy, seasonal flavor so delicious that it’s the first of our leftovers to disappear.
For demonstrative and visual purposes, I’ve made this batch in muffin tins. It creates individual portions that make serving easier and you can serve them nestled in a basket if you wish. That being said, you can also prepare it in a baking dish and serve with a spoon.
I’ll be totally honest, I put my stuffing inside of my turkey. There are plenty of articles advising against this for fear of salmonella, but I don’t care. My whole life I’ve eaten it this way and have been perfectly fine. Alex was fearful our first Thanksgiving together but then determined it was some of the best stuffing he’s ever had. The key is that the stuffing goes into the bird right before it goes in the oven (leave room, don’t pack it in there) and comes out immediately after being pulled from the oven. It’s entirely your choice, but I suggest giving it a try. Or, to satisfy your curiosity and any squeamish guests, do both.
for the stuffing:
10 cups of day-old white bread, cubed
1 pound Italian sausage (store-bought, or see below)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
1 pound white button mushrooms, sliced
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup onions, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley (or 1/4 cup dried)
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried crumbled sage
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
for Italian sausage:
1 pound ground pork
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon basil
Cube the white bread and set it in a bowl or colander overnight to let it get a little stale. The next day, in a large skillet, cook the sausage, drain it, and set it aside in a separate bowl. In the same skillet, on medium heat, melt the butter and saute the mushrooms, onions, and celery until softened, for about 10 minutes. Add the vegetables, bread and spices to the sausage. Add enough broth to moisten lightly. If you’re stuffing a turkey, now is the time. Otherwise you can place it in a baking pan or a muffin tin and bake in the oven at 350 degrees until it’s heated through and browned on top.