Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away, and if you haven’t already begun planning your meal, now’s the time to put pen to paper and get started on your menu.
For most of us, it’s a dinner rich with tradition, so there isn’t a lot of variation on the table from year to year. Turkey, and its perennial partner stuffing, take pride of place, and from there an assortment of side dishes, which may or may not change each year.
In a previous post, we covered how to cook the perfect turkey, and now it’s time to learn how to make your family’s favourite stuffing even better. We also have a recipe for a classic and simple sausage stuffing, which can be used all year long, especially as an accompaniment to roast chicken or pork.
- Although the terms are used interchangeably, there is a difference between dressing and stuffing. Dressing is baked outside of the turkey; when placed within the cavity of the bird, it becomes stuffing.
- The stuffing can be made a day ahead, cooled, covered and stored in the refrigerator until needed.
- Don’t stuff the turkey until just before you put it in the oven.
- Estimate ¾ – 1 cup of stuffing per person. If you want leftovers, increase that amount.
- The bread sets the tone for the dish, so use the one you’re most fond of. Italian or French bread is a popular choice and yields a soft bite. Whole-wheat bread adds heft and sweetness, while cornbread adds a nutty flavour. There is no wrong choice!
- Pack the stuffing into the turkey loosely. It expands as it absorbs the bird’s juices and if tightly packed it won’t cook thoroughly.
- Cut your bread into ½-inch cubes, or tear it if you want more of a rustic look.
- If the bread isn’t thoroughly dried it will become soggy. Dry the bread cubes by placing them on a baking sheet and leaving them uncovered overnight, or bake in the oven at 300°F for 15 minutes or until they feel completely dry.
Simple Sausage Stuffing
- 1 ½ lbs. mild Italian sausages, casings removed
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 cup diced celery
- 12 cups cubed day-old bread
- ¼ cup butter, melted, plus extra for baking dish or foil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp dried sage
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 cups chicken stock
- ½ cup finely chopped Italian parsley
Prep and Cook:
- Sauté the sausage meat in a large skillet set over medium heat, stirring frequently, until no longer pink. Add the onion and celery and cook until the onion is translucent. Drain excess fat from the pan and set aside to cool.
- Place the bread cubes in your largest bowl. Add the cooled sausage mixture, butter, salt, sugar, sage, thyme, chicken stock and parsley, and stir well to combine thoroughly.
- To bake separately from the turkey, preheat oven to 350°F and generously butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan and sheet of aluminum foil with butter. Transfer the stuffing to the prepared dish, cover with the foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and cook for an additional 20 minutes.
- Otherwise, loosely stuff the neck and body cavity of the bird and cook as per your turkey recipe directions, baking any leftover stuffing using the instructions above.