Stuffing. It's the best part of Thanksgiving, right? Well, maybe not the best, but it's definitely up there. I make this recipe every year, typically; this year, we are not hosting the holiday. This year, I prepped this dish for a demonstration I was doing at the Easton Public Market, and since I was giving out the recipe there, I figured I might as well share it here, too. People seemed pretty pleased.
The key here, as with anything when you cook, is as simple as this: ingredients matter. I used a fantastic hearty French loaf from Scratch, a vendor at the market. I didn't remove the crusts (some recipes ask you to do that; I only do it if they seem impenetrable). I also used some great sweet Italian sausage from the butcher at the market, and removed it from its casings. The mushrooms are from Primordia, a vendor that supplies our markets and many, many restaurants. I used a variety because that's what we had, but the majority of the mushrooms were cremini.
You can prep many of these components the day before or even compose the entire dish and then just reheat it on Thanksgiving. If you're opting for the latter, consider underbaking it slightly the first time around, so when you put it in the oven to reheat it, it doesn't dry out. If you're prepping ingredients ahead of time, you can combine the veggies and sausage in a covered air-tight dish. For the bread cubes, I'd recommend prepping them and setting them aside in an air-tight container. Add them, along with the whisked wet ingredients, to the veggies and sausage, when you're ready to bake.
- 1 large loaf of good quality, crusty bread
- 1 pound ground pork or sausage (I used sweet Italian, removed from casings)
- 4 T unsalted butter
- 1 pound cremini or mixed mushrooms, quartered
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
- 1 1/2 cups chopped celery
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
- 2 T. thyme leaves
- 2 T. minced sage
- 2 T. minced rosemary
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups vegetable, chicken or pork stock
Preheat the oven to 400°F and prepare a 9x13 glass baking dish and an 8x8 glass baking dish by buttering it.
Slice the bread and then cut it into one-inch cubes. Spread them out onto two rimmed baking sheets and toast in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until they are lightly toasted. Remove from the oven and let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°.
Cook the sausage over medium-high heat in a deep skillet for about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the pan and transfer to a very large bowl.
Melt 2 T of butter to the skillet and cook the mushrooms for about 4 minutes. Remove them from the skillet and add to the bowl with the sausage. Add in the toasted bread cubes and combine. Set aside.
Melt 2 T of butter in the pan and cook the onions, carrots and celery. Saute them for about 3-4 minutes until the veggies start to become tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the parsley through rosemary, and stir to combine, cooking for about a minute, just until everything becomes fragrant. Add to the large bowl with the sausage, bread cubes and mushrooms.
In a large measuring cup, whisk the eggs into the stock. Pour this liquid into the large bowl, tossing with a spatula to evenly coat everything.
Transfer the stuffing to the prepared dishes and bake for about 40 minutes, covered with aluminum foil to prevent it from drying out. Check on it after 40 minutes to make sure it's toasted on top and baked through; you want it moist, not wet. If it's not quite ready, remove the aluminum foil and bake uncovered for another 5-10 minutes.
This will easily serve 8-10 people, or half that amount, with leftovers. It also freezes well.