stuffing
Photo: Cristina Ferrare
For me the stuffing is as important as the turkey. If either one comes out too dry or bland it can ruin the whole dinner. I have spent many hours and tried countless ingredients to come up with what I think is the best combination for this stuffing. I say that only because everyone has to put their two cents in until I finally came up with a stuffing everybody loves! Our whole family—over 50 of us now, and growing—approves. I still get phone calls every year from nieces, nephews, cousins and grandkids to ask me to make sure I make Zia's (that's me, it means "aunt" in Italian) stuffing. I altered it one year just for variety but that didn't go over so well, and I am still hearing about it! We've picked up some vegetarians and two gluten-free girls along the way; this dressing works without the meat, and I substitute the sourdough bread with gluten-free bread.
Serves 12 to 15

Ingredients


I like to bake my own bread and use sourdough to make the cubes, but if you don't have the time or don't want to make your own, store-bought is perfectly fine! Make the bread cubes for this dressing a week or at least 3 to 4 days before you are ready to make the stuffing. This will give the cubes a chance to dry out completely and the dressing will hold up better. Let the toasted cubes sit out on the counter after baking to cool, then let them dry out for at least 3 hours before you put them in an airtight container to store in the pantry.
  • 1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) sourdough bread, cut into 1" cubes
  • 4 sweet Italian sausages
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped into small chunks
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 8 scallions, diced
  • 3 large carrots, diced into small pieces
  • 6 celery ribs, sliced into 3 long strips then chopped into 1/4" inch pieces
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 can (10 ounces)' 'cream of celery soup
  • 3 cups chicken broth, homemade or store-bought organic chicken broth
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped coarsely
  • 2 1/2 tsp.' 'kosher salt
  • 2 green apples, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1/2" pieces
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 to 4 twists of cracked black peppercorns from a pepper mill

Directions


To make the sourdough cubes:

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Slice the sourdough bread into 1" cubes and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until the bread is a deep golden on all sides. Make sure to turn the baking sheet around at least once during baking and use a metal spatula to turn over the cubes. Remove the bread cubes from the oven and let them rest uncovered for a least 3 hours to dry out.

To make the stuffing:

Place the baked sourdough cubes in a large bowl. Make sure the bowl is large enough to hold all the stuffing once the rest of the ingredients are added, and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place the sausages on a baking sheet and bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until cooked through, turning 3 to 4 times while baking to make sure all sides are brown. Remove from the oven, wait at least 10 minutes and chop into small bite-size pieces. Set aside.

Heat a large, heavy skillet on medium high heat for 2 minutes. Pour olive oil into the skillet and coat the bottom with the oil quickly. Add the onions and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until the onions start to release their juices. Add butter, scallions, carrots, celery and salt. Sauté for 8 to 10, minutes turning gently. Pour into the bowl with the sourdough cubes and mix well. Add the cooked sausages, cream of celery soup, chicken broth, orange juice and lemon juice, mix well. Add the apples, raisins, cranberries, walnuts, parsley and mix well. Correct seasoning by adding more kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste. Pour into a baking dish and cover tightly with foil. Store in the refrigerator until ready to bake. When ready to serve, remove the stuffing from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake stuffing with the foil on for 45 minutes, until hot in the middle. Test by dipping a spoon into the middle of the stuffing and pull out a small amount. Taste to see if it is hot enough.

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