I know these are fighting words, (my mother always argues with me about this topic) but I don’t ever stuff my bird. Stuffing insulates the turkey, thereby slowing down its cooking. It also almost guarantees that the turkey will be cooked unevenly. To eliminate this headache and to have the most control over the temperature of my turkey and my savory treat, I cook the bird separately and the stuffing separately. When you cook the stuffing outside the bird, in a shallow casserole pan, it is called “dressing”.
This Italian American recipe is one of my Thanksgiving favorites. It is adapted from the recipe of Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis who received the ingredient list and method from her Aunt Raffy. I love the flavors of the original dish, but I made several changes. Giada uses only cornbread. I prefer a mixture of challah bread and cornbread. The texture is softer and more luscious with the addition of egg bread. Giada likes turkey sausage. I find it too dry so I substituted fatty pork sausage. I’ve also adjusted the seasonings and added organic pine nuts which I crave. This recipe is greatly enhanced if you use your own homemade stock rather than canned broth. Of course, stuffing recipes are easily adaptable and, you may add or omit most things in this recipe to suit your needs and preferences.
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- 1 medium Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 medium Cripps Pink (or Pink Lady) Apple, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons cubed
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 tablespoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons hot pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground fennel seeds
- 1 pound sweet pork sausage, meat removed from casing
- 8 ounces steamed whole chestnuts, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup organic pine nuts
- 4 ounces day old corn bread cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 4 ounces day old challah or egg bread cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 cup homemade chicken stock
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- In a medium saute pan over medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and pork sausage meat and break up with a wooden spoon. Allow the meat to cook for a few minutes and brown nicely on the bottom. Turn once, add hot pepper flakes and ground sage and pinch of salt. Allow the seasoned sausage to cook through. With a slotted spoon, remove the cooked sausage and place in a medium sized bowl. Reserve the pan with cooked remains of the sausage.
- In the warm oily pan, add the diced onions and apples. Turn up the heat to medium and with the sausage stained wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pan to release crusty sausage bits. Sauté the onions and apples for 10 minutes to soften.
- Add the wine and simmer for 5 minutes until most of the wine has evaporated. Then add dried cranberries. Take pan off the heat and allow the mixture to cool.
- In a medium bowl toss together the fruit and onion mixture, the sausage, the pine nuts, the chestnuts the challah bread and the corn bread. Gently combine all the ingredients.
- Add the chicken stock and place the dressing into a 12 x 8 inch baking dish. Sprinkle the top with grated Parmesan and dot with butter. Place the baking dish in the middle rack and bake for 35 minutes. Turn the oven up to 400 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- You can stuff your turkey with this mixture, but make sure that the stuffing is cold when you put it in the cavity of your uncooked bird. Be careful to loosely stuff your bird before you truss it since stuffing will expand in the turkey.