One of my favorite holiday side dishes is this stuffing. Though technically a dressing, as I would never in a million years stuff this in a bird and then eat it. To each their own. It’s a perfect pairing to a roasted turkey, beef tenderloin, or pork roast and one that I have been making and improving upon for over 15 years. This past Thanksgiving my family was away on vacation and the holiday passed without me making this dish! We ate an excellent meal at Del Frisco’s in San Diego – amazing aged steak with all the sides, delicious cocktails and plenty of excellent red wine. For Christmas dinner, I’ll be bringing this over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house. It feeds a crowd and I’m looking forward to sharing it again this year.
Also in November, I shared this recipe with our local magazine, Hillsborough Living. I have been happily contributing recipes nearly every other month since May of 2020 and I was happy to share this family favorite. They were also kind enough to interview Eric and myself and feature our family on the November 2021 cover. Never in a million years did I think this would fly with my teenagers but they were troopers in the October photo shoot (bonus: checked off the holiday photo nice and early this year but somehow managed to get them out not until mid-Dec!).
The lively interview focused on our family, how we met, etc. but mostly on my love of cooking and teaching and why I decided to go back to school in my 40s. It was a mix of fun, a little bit embarrassing and a lot of feelings of “why us?!” We were certainly honored that they’d include us. It feels good to step outside of the box every now and then – something I’ve been doing more and more as I get older and it feels better than I thought. Maybe something I’ll continue in 2022! Until then, cheers to a healthy, happy holiday – however and wherever you celebrate it!
Sourdough Bread Stuffing with Sausage, Parsnip and Sage Butter
Perfect side dish to any holiday meal! The original recipe and inspiration behind this stuffing appeared in the November 2005 issue of Bon Appétit, when my oldest was just 6 months old. After 15+ years of making it, I’ve worked on the recipe little by little, adding layers of flavor during the cooking process. This final adapted version is my best yet and I hope your family and friends love it as much as we do.
- 1 stick of unsalted butter divided
- 10 slices sourdough bread cut into ½ inch cubes (about ¾ lb)
- 1 lb bulk sweet Italian sausage
- 3 large cloves of garlic minced
- ½ tsp red chili flakes
- 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 onions small dice (about 3 cups)
- 3 stalks of celery leaves included, small dice (about 1 cup)
- 1 tbsp dry sherry white wine or chicken stock
- 2 parsnips peeled, small dice (about 3 cups)
- 3 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored, small dice (about 3 cups)
- ⅓ cup packed fresh sage leaves chopped
- ½ cup chicken stock homemade or low sodium is preferred
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Prepare a 13x9x2 inch casserole dish by greasing with about 1 tbsp of butter. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 325°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spread bread cubes in an even layer. Bake until dry and toasted, about 15-20 minutes. Set aside.
In a large heavy bottom skillet, place sausage in the pan and over cook over medium-high heat, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon or spatula. No oil is needed, the sausage will begin to render its fat as it cooks. Cook until the sausage is a deep golden brown, not just “no longer pink.” You want flavor here, and color means flavor. Add garlic and red chili flakes and cook for about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large mixing bowl, add toasted bread and mix.
In the skillet you should have about 1 tbsp of fat from the sausage. To this, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and bring the heat to medium. Add onions, celery, ½ tsp of kosher salt and ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper. Saute until the onions are slightly golden and the celery is soft, but still has a slight crunch to it, about 8 minutes. Add the dry sherry to deglaze and get all the last bits of sausage off the bottom of the pan. Add to the bread mixture and toss thoroughly. The bread cubes enjoy soaking up each of these layers of flavor.
To the now empty pan, add ¼ cup of butter and heat over medium heat. Once melted, add the parsnips and a ½ tsp of kosher salt and saute, stirring occasionally. After about 4-5 minutes, add the apples to the pan and saute together until tender and golden, about 4-5 additional minutes. If the mixture is sticking, the bottom of the pan is browning or you don’t hear a sizzle, you need more fat. Another tbsp of butter or splash of olive oil will help this. You can lower the heat to medium-low as well. Add to the bread mixture and combine.
Finally, add 2 tbsp unsalted butter to the pan over medium heat. Once melted, add chopped fresh sage and saute, stirring often for about 2 minutes. You should smell toasty butter and the sage should be dark green. Add to the bread mixture, mix thoroughly. Taste and see if you need one last pinch or salt or black pepper. We layered our seasoning with each step so this adjustment is rarely needed!
Add stuffing to the prepared casserole dish. Spread out evenly and drizzle with chicken stock. Cover with foil and bake for about 1 hour, removing the foil in the last 10 minutes or so to allow for the top to crisp up and brown. Serve warm.
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