I usually cook it in a large ovenproof casserole, assembling it ahead of time and baking it before serving. This recipe is great for stuffing a 16-pound turkey, but make sure to stuff the bird lightly so the dressing can expand. When roasting stuffed meat, it's imperative that the stuffing reach 165 F. My own preference is to bake this on its own and pass the gravy. That way I don't have to worry.
My friend Kathy Blue, the queen of Thanksgiving and co-author of "Thanksgiving Dinner," recommended that I use trail mix to make this delicious and easy dressing. Celery and nuts impart a crunchy contrast, while the dried fruit and apple sausage add a sweetness to the smooth stuffing texture.
Whether you cook this in a casserole or stuff it into a turkey, it's bound to be a holiday hit with its sweet crispy, nutty, fruity flavors.
Help is on the Way:
- Use precooked chicken-apple sausage, and slice after browning.
- Add your favorite dried fruit and nuts instead of the trail mix.
- Add 1 pound sauteed mushrooms to the vegetables.
- Bake in a greased loaf pan and, when it's cooked, unmold onto a rectangular platter for a pretty presentation.
CHICKEN-APPLE SAUSAGE, CHESTNUT, DRIED FRUIT AND NUT DRESSING
- 8 cups ciabatta or French bread, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes, (about 1 pound)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted margarine
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 6 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound uncooked chicken-apple sausage, casings removed
- 1 cup cooked (vacuum packed) chestnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups nut and dried fruit trail mix, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh finely chopped thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh finely chopped sage leaves
- 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1 cup chicken or turkey broth
- 3 tablespoon unsalted margarine
1. Place the bread cubes on a baking sheet and let sit out overnight to dry out the bread. Turn it at least once to dry it out evenly. Set aside.
2. In a large skillet heat the oil and margarine on medium heat and saute the onion for about 5 minutes or until nicely softened. Add the celery and continue sauteeing until the celery is crisp tender, about 4 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl.
3. In the same pan, brown the sausage for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from burning. Cool and add to the vegetables. Add the chestnuts, trail mix, thyme, sage, bread cubes and parsley, and mix to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Slowly add the broth, mixing carefully, making sure that the stuffing is moist but not too compact, if you are planning to stuff the turkey, since it will expand. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
4. If not stuffing the turkey, grease a 10-cup ovenproof baking dish and transfer the stuffing into it. Pat the top with margarine. The stuffing may be compacted because it will not expand in the pan. Cover the stuffing well with foil.
5. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Bake the stuffing for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes or until the top is brown. Serve immediately.
Advance Preparation: This may be prepared 2 days in advance through step 4, covered and refrigerated. Remove from the refrigerator one hour ahead of baking.