Traditionally, stuffing used to be stuffed inside the Roasting Turk. Lately it is baked apart from the poultry and me thinks this is a good change. AB of course has specific reasons not to put the stuffing inside. Read here for further enlightenment. We were planning on having it baked separate anyway and this went well with our humble plans. I liked many stuffing ideas but the one that appealed most was found on a Williams-Sonoma leaflet/holiday guide that my husband picked up when he went there to get the brining bag. It is named sausage, chestnut and mushroom dressing in the leaflet.
I didn't use the brandname La Brea stuffing which the recipe was centered around and just used a regular bag. Also made variations based on availability and personal taste. Let me tell you... it came out splendid! The accurate and organized timings/steps in the recipe helped big time in the crazy rush to finish dishes on time without burning things.
In The Mix
butter - 4 tbsp
hot Italian sausage - 1 lbs (casings removed)
regular white mushrooms - 7 oz. (half of a regular packaged box)
stuffing - 1 lbs (any herbalized or regular mixed croutons package will do)
low sodium free range chicken stock/broth - ~750ml (warmed)
cooked turkey giblets - from 1 turkey bag (minced, not in org recipe)
garlic cloves - 3 (crushed and minced)
yellow onions - 2 diced
celery - 4-5 sticks diced (org recipe used a fennel bulb instead)
fresh Italian parsley - 1 tbsp minced
fresh thyme - 1 tsp minced
fresh sage - 1 tsp minced
fresh rosemary - 1 tsp minced (not in org recipe)
kosher salt - 2 tsp
freshly ground pepper - to taste
dry sherry - 1/4 cup
chestnuts - 1/2 cup (roasted, peeled and halved)
fresh curly parsley - 1 tbsp minced (not in org recipe)
How To Do
Preheat oven first to 425C to roast the chestnuts.
Grease a baking pan with 1 tbsp of the butter.
Rinse and slice the mushrooms to include the stem at the center.
Cook the Italian sausage in a pan over medium heat. Remove lumps by stirring well. Set this aside once fully cooked. About 7 minutes.
Melt remaining butter in the same pan. Mix onions, celery and Italian parsley together and saute well. Do not brown the onion mix. 10-12 minutes seem about right. Now add the garlic, mushrooms, thyme, sage, rosemary, salt, pepper and cook again for about 12 minutes. I did all the cooking uncovered.
Add the sherry and mix gently. Set aside.
to roast chestnuts
Use a sharp knife and make X's on the flat side. This allows steam to escape while in the oven and keep from exploding. Arrange chestnuts with flat side up in a cookie sheet. Bake for about 20 min. Cover with foil once out of the oven to keep them warm in case you get distracted with other stuff. This also gives time to cool down a bit before you can start peeling. It will be difficult to peel if you wait too long so get to it as soon as you can. Peel them off and cut in halves. It is completely okay if at anytime here you feel like a song is coming because that is exactly what happened to my husband when he saw the chestnuts roasting on an open fire, er... in the oven :-)
Looks like salted mango pickle 'uppumanga' from Kerala. But looks ARE deceiving. Chestnuts taste more like any steamed dense carbs. I picked them up at the local grocery store and rumor has it that they are readily available in any Asian grocery store. Roasted, peeled version that is. But then, be forewarned that no songs will be forthcoming with that option:-)
Change the oven temp to 375C.
In a large bowl, combine the cooked sausage, prepared mushroom mix, chestnuts and curly parsley. If you had saved the cooked giblets that came inside the turkey, now would be the time to add it after mincing. Then add the store bought stuffing and mix all together.
The time has come to add chicken stock. Since we don't want to end up with a mushy texture for the croutons, extra care need to be taken in adding the stock. I found that about 650ml did the trick for me. The dry bread (croutons) should be moist but not...mushy. Pour this mixture into the baking pan, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for about 30-32 minutes to get crispy delicious stuffing. Ready to serve after 10-15 minutes.
When dinner was over and conversation kept going around the dinner table, hands continued reaching out to the stuffing for small portions again and again. Yum indeed!
Next Up : Mashed Potatoes