by Molly Stevens, Cooking Teacher & Author of "All About Roasting", Burlington, Vermont
The flavors of a classic Thanksgiving stuffing get a boost from a few links of Smart Chicken Sweet Italian Sausage and plenty of fresh herbs. Choose your favorite white bread here, ideally something with a good crust and nice flavor. Tearing the bread by hand (as opposed to cutting cubes with a knife) gives it a satisfyingly rustic texture. If your bread isn’t already a little stale (and dry), lightly toast in a 225°F oven.
- 1/3 loaf good quality white bread (about 6 ounces), stale or lightly toasted
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 links Smart Chicken Fresh Sweet Italian Sausage (about 6 ounces), casings removed
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 cup chopped celery, including celery leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Tear the bread into 1- to 1 1/2-inch chunks (you should have 5 to 6 cups).
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Fry the sausage, using a wooden spoon to crumble it into bite-sized bits, until browned (about 6 minutes). Remove sausage with a slotted spoon, and add the butter to the pan. Add the onion, celery, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine, cover, and lower the heat so that the vegetables soften without browning. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and the vegetables are soft (about 10 minutes). Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl, scraping the skillet with a rubber spatula to get all the seasonings. Add bread, sausage, and parsley. Toss to combine.
Note: This stuffing is designed to cook under a butterflied chicken, so that the juices from the chicken moisten the stuffing. If you want to bake the stuffing independently, spoon into a buttered baking dish and pour over 3/4 to 1 cup chicken broth. Bake, covered, in a 350°F oven until heated through, about 40 minutes. Uncover for the last 15 minutes to brown the top.