Help Me Find: Stuffing with Chestnuts and Sausage
I loved a family member's sausage for many years until, I don't know, I started noticing an after taste of something and then later realizing I didn't love the texture. I think I've finally traced it to the bread she uses which is the Pepperidge Farms "Seasoned" stuffing cubes. I just read the ingredient list and discovered cheap oils, HFCS, and "yeasts" which are often code for MSG-type nastiness.
I want a chewy and delicous stuffing liberally studded with whole or halved chesnuts and sausage. Will consider other additions as well. Will have access to plenty of good turkey stock as well.
The best textural improvement I ever made to my stuffing (which includes sausage but not chestnuts) is to use homemade bread. I make a simple bread (either the infamous no-knead or preferably my mother's easy-peasy french bread recipe) the weekend before Thanksgiving and tear it into bite sized chunks, then let it sit out to dry until the big day. I've never found a store-bought bread that gives me as good a result - maybe because they tend to have preservatives?
Anyway, the rest of my recipe includes a ton of finely chopped onion, celery and carrot, sweated in a ton of butter, plus roasted mushrooms and fennel, sage sausage, fresh herbs, a little white wine and just enough stock to to moisten the whole works. Chestnuts and some diced apple would be delicious additions, but my husband would shoot me if I changed my formula. However, the real secret is the homemade bread. Whatever recipe you choose, try making your own bread and you won't be sorry!
I do a variation of this stuffing/dressing every Thanksgiving. For my chestnut and pork sausage version, I like using sourdough bread (usually Acme's sour loaf because I like the crumb) but I've also used other breads like focaccia and ciabatta.
24 ounces bread, cut into 3/4- to 1- inch cubes
6 to 8 cups add-ins *
3 to 4 cups homemade turkey or chicken stock
3 to 4 tbsp melted butter or olive oil
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
3 tbsp chopped fresh sage
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauteed celery (2 cups)+
sauteed onion (3 cups)+
roasted chestnuts, coarsely chopped (1.5 cups)+
cooked mild pork sausage, coarsely crumbled (pre-cook weight ~1.5 pounds).
Two 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pans. Bake at 375F for 50 to 60 minutes total. (Cover pans with buttered foil during first 30 min, then uncover for last 20-30 min.)