Instead we're going down to spend it with K's dad in Maryland. My only big gripe about T-Day there (other than the drive) is her dad's stuffing, easily my favorite dish of that meal. So we told them that I'd be making the stuffing, my special sausage-and-apple stuffing (recipe after the ass). That actually worked out really well since her cousin is going to be deep frying the turkey and they couldn't have stuffed it in the bird anyway. I can't wait to taste a deep-fried turkey, not to mention witness all the wacky, emergency-room-baiting fun of getting the bird out of the hot oil. And if something goes terribly, terribly wrong with the turkey, I at least know that my savory stuffing eats like a meal all by itself.
Just in case I don't get around to posting tomorrow (which seems more than likely), Happy Thanksgiving everybody!
1 pound breakfast sausage
10 tablespoons unsalted butter (plus extra for baking dish)
5 medium ribs celery (chopped fine)
2 medium onions (minced)
2 granny smith apples (peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
4 tablespoons dried parsely
2 teaspoons dried sage leaves
2 teapoons dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup milk or cream
2 pounds sandwich bread (cut into 1/2-inch cubes and dried)
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
4 cups chicken broth (low-sodium)
2 large eggs (beaten lightly)
2 teaspoons table salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1. Drying the bread before making the stuffing is crucial for texture and flavor. If you plan ahead, you can simply leave the bread cubes out on the counter for a few days to become stale. Otherwise, spread them out on baking sheets and dry in a 300-degree oven for 30 to 60 minutes. Let the bread cool before using in the stuffing.
2. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
3. Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium heat, breaking it up into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the sausage from the skillet and reserve. Drain the fat, and reserve.
4. Add all the butter to the now empty skillet. (You can substitute the reserved sausage fat for an equal amount of butter -- you'll need a total 10 of tablespoons of fat – but I usually use Jimmy Dean sausage which is fairly low in fat). Add the celery, apple, onion, bay leaf, and garlic. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in parsley, sage, thyme, and marjoram and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Discard bay leaf. Transfer to a very large mixing bowl.
5. Whisk milk, egg and broth in bowl to blend. Add the sausage, cooled bread, salt, and pepper to the vegetables and toss gently to distribute dry and wet ingredients evenly. Turn mixture into buttered baking dish.
6. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until golden, about 25 minutes longer. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Note: Stuffing can be assembled in the baking dish, then wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before baking.