Lagasse's mother cooked her family's Portuguese specialties year-round, but her Thanksgiving dressing—filled with spicy sausage, lots of parsley, and milk-soaked bread—is his favorite. After years of trying to replicate it, he finally asked for the recipe. "It might be the best thing I've ever eaten. I make it all the time," Lagasse says.
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
4 cups milk
1/4 cup chicken broth
12 to 14 1/2" cubes day-old white bread, preferably Portuguese or soft baguette
1 pound Portuguese linguica or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1/4 pound ground beef
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 to 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Total time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Preheat oven to 375°. Grease a 9" x 13" dish with oil, set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together milk, broth and eggs. Add bread, mix well, and set aside until milk is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook sausage and beef, breaking meat apart with a spoon, until browned throughout, about 10 minutes. Add oil, garlic, celery, bay leaf, bell pepper, onion, salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden brown, about 15 minutes; remove and discard bay leaf.
Transfer meat mixture to bowl with bread, add parsley, and stir to combine. Transfer to prepared dish, spread out evenly, and bake until deep golden brown on top, about 1 hour. (Cover with foil after 45 minutes if top starts to burn before dressing is fully cooked.)