Thanksgiving is my all-time favorite holiday. I love the weather, fires in the fireplace, the family is all together and no pressure with gifts. In full disclosure, it is also around my birthday – Nov. 26th – but these days I could do without remembering that!
I have been making this stuffing for more than 20 years now, tweaking it until I think it’s just right. Every once in a while I have veered off and done a chorizo dressing or something with chestnuts and this one is the one we always go back to and is requested by everyone in my family. I forgot that I shared this with some of my friends years ago, only to discover recently that yes, they are still using it too. The basis of it comes from the very first Silver Palate cookbook. I used that cookbook so much in the 80’s, that my cover fell off. I think my good friend, Deb, cooked every recipe in there. We used to tease each other, we were both making our way through it! Good stuff!
Now some people and the government think you shouldn’t stuff the bird. I say nonsense! If your bird is really fresh, you’ve washed and dried it very well, let the dressing cool completely before stuffing, you will be fine. At the table, remove the dressing into a covered casserole before you carve the bird and start passing it. Then when the feast is over, totally clean out the cavity of all the stuffing and carve all of the meat off of the bird (makes it easier for leftovers the next day) and make stock with the carcass or throw it away. This way, you will have no problems and everything will be tastier.
I hope this will become your go-to favorite stuffing recipe as well!
CORNBREAD SAUSAGE STUFFING WITH APPLES & PECANS
Serves 12-14 people or more than enough stuffing for a 20 lb. bird
1 ½ sticks of sweet butter (12 tbs.)
2 3/4 cups of finely chopped yellow onions (use your food processor for this)
3 tart apples, cored and chunked, not peeled (Jonathan are good)
1 lb. lightly seasoned bulk sausage (I use breakfast sausage with sage)
3 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread (bake a Jiffy cornbread mix for this)
3 heaping cups of crustless, cubed, day old whole-wheat bread
3 heaping cups of crustless, cubed, day-old white bread (I prepare and cut my breads the night before so they can dry out a little.)
2 rounded tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp dried sage
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
¾ cup chopped Italian parsley
1 ½ cups shelled pecan halves
1 raw egg
Chicken broth to moisten
Melt half of the butter in a skillet. Add chopped onions and cook over medium – medium/low heat, partially covered, until tender and lightly colored, about 25 minutes. Scrape onions and butter into a very large bowl. The biggest you’ve got!
Melt remaining butter in the same skillet. Add apple chunks and sauté over high heat until lightly colored but not mushy. Transfer the apples and all of the butter to the same mixing bowl with the onions.
Squeeze the sausage out of the casing if necessary. Crumble it into the skillet and sauté over medium heat, continuing to break up the sausage into small pieces, stirring until no pink remains and it’s lightly browned. With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to the mixing bowl and throw away the fat.
Add all remaining ingredients to your large bowl and fold together with a large spatula, gently combining everything. Beat an egg in a separate small bowl and fold that in as well. Moisten with homemade or low sodium chicken broth. Salt and pepper to taste. Cool completely before stuffing the bird.
With leftover stuffing, or if you choose not to stuff your bird, spoon stuffing into a casserole, cover with a lid or aluminum foil, and set in a large, deeper pan. Pour hot water around the casserole to come halfway up the sides. Bake for 30 – 45 minutes at 325 degrees. You will LOVE it!
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