This is my second blog post for my “early” Thanksgiving meal this year. I feel like on Thanksgiving, when it comes to my brother and I, the turkey is merely a side-dish to the stuffing. This is the part of the holiday meal we crave. It is something that simply must be served at a holiday meal or it just wouldn’t be the same. It is made of bulk sausage (original or sage seasoned, I have even made it with hot before), diced onion, diced celery, butter, chicken broth and bread. Traditionally with plain old white sandwich bread but you can truly use whatever you have laying around. This time, half of the bread I used was white bread but the other half was torn up chunks of my own sourdough bread. Divine. What else can I say?
My mom taught me to make this delicious sausage stuffing and when I asked her to write down the recipe, she said “you just kindof eyeball it”. Lol. But it is true and I’ve learned this from experience. I’ve tried my best to put it into a workable formula for you here but be aware that this is truly a taste-as-you-go process where you adjust the seasoning to your liking. Especially when it comes to the sage. I LOVE sage, especially in this stuffing, and I almost can’t get enough of it. But season it to your liking. Bread and broth can be added until you get the volume and consistency you like. I usually like it to be on the wet side as it will dry out a bit and form a nice crust on the top but I certainly don’t want dry stuffing in the end so making sure the bread is quite moist to begin with is key. I have never dried my bread or toasted it for this recipe. I don’t know that I ever will because I like the consistency of it this way. Some of the white bread pieces almost dissolve as the mixing goes on in this, making a sort of binder for this and giving it a some-what creamy consistency. Using two types of bread, one cheap old white bread and one a sturdier bread like sourdough (or yum try rye!) lends a nice texture to the finished product so I encourage you to experiment.
My mom used to make this in a large pot on the stove and then transfer it to a casserole dish but I have started making it in a shallow dutch oven that I can both prepare my stuffing in and bake it in. Of course, this wouldn’t work for the size batch that she used to make but since it is just two of us here I make a somewhat smaller batch so this cooking vessel is the perfect size (for the meal and some leftovers: I really like this stuffing COLD out the the fridge!). She sometimes would even scoop the unbaked stuffing into muffin tins and bake it that way so you get lots of crusty edges and convenient pre-portioned servings. Your baking time won’t be as long if you do this. Although let me say, everything in this stuffing is cooked before it goes into the oven you are just baking it to dry it, set it and give it a bit of crust on-top so if you want it crunchier cook it longer, or visa versa.
*Double this for holidays or if you’re feeding a crowd- if doubling prepare on stovetop as directed and then move to a large casserole dish for baking so that the stuffing has a greater surface area for that nice crisp top. OR prepare in muffin tins for pre-portioned servings!
*This is best prepared in a stainless steel pan rather than a non-stick to allow for better browning
- 20 slices of white sandwich bread, ripped into pieces about 1” each including the crust (or use sourdough or rye bread for something different or a combination of breads)- you may slightly more or less
- 8 oz. bulk pork sausage (original or sage- if using sage add less dried sage)
- 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 stalks of celery, finely diced, with the leaves
- 1 stick of unsalted butter
- 32 oz. reduced sodium chicken or turkey broth
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- Dried sage to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Heat a large, oven-safe sauté or braising pan over medium high heat (it should have straight sides that are at least 4 inches high)
- Melt 2 tbsp. of butter in the pan and add the sausage
- Cook until the sausage is nicely browned, breaking up with a potato masher or back of a wooden spoon as you go
- Remove sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon and reduce heat to medium
- Add 4 tbsp. of butter and allow to melt before adding the onion and celery
- Season with salt and pepper and allow to cook until softened and the onions are translucent- about 10-12 minutes
- Season liberally with dried sage
- Add in half of the chicken broth to deglaze the pan- scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of your pan
- Add in about ¼ of the bread cubes, stirring to combine- it will seem like a lot is in the pan but it will shrink down quite a bit
- Once the bread has absorbed the broth, add in another ¼ of the bread and stir to combine
- Return the sausage to the pan
- Add in the remaining chicken broth, followed by the remaining bread (in increments if needed)
- Taste for seasoning- add more sage, salt and pepper as desired
- Spread out the stuffing right in its cooking pan to create an even layer (or transfer to a large casserole dish if making a double batch)
- Dot the top with 2 tbsp. of butter cut into small pieces and place in the oven
- Bake until the top is nice and crispy, 20-30 minutes
** If you are making this ahead, say while the turkey is roasting on thanksgiving, you can prepare it fully and just hold it off to the side or in the fridge until you are ready to bake it (you may have to bake it longer if cooking from cold)