I do believe, if I say so myself, that this was far and away the best dressing I've ever made. I used to buy Pepperidge Farms package cubes, and started from that relatively mild slate and made it my own with additions, etc., but this time I decided to veer way off the traditional path. Last Thanksgiving I made Rachel Ray's apple and onion stuffin' muffins. They were good. Very good, actually, but the taste didn't wow me. I didn't want apples this time, which gives dressing a real sweet taste. I did like the convenience of baking them in a muffin tin - they can be heated up in a jiffy, so you pop them into the oven when you take the turkey out to rest before you slice it up to serve. And by the time you are ready to serve, the stuffin' muffins are done.
I could have used the same muffin style, I suppose, even with this version, but it seemed easier to just make it in a big pan because of serving 16 people. (FYI: I made a double batch, so baked it in a 9x13 pan.) For the last few years I've been buying kosher turkeys. And generally they are too salty to put dressing in the bird itself. So since I discovered this super-wonderful-juicy turkey preparation, I've been baking the dressing outside the bird.
I wanted dressing with Italian sausage this year. So I turned to my favorite Thanksgiving cookbook, Thanksgiving 101 by Rick Rodgers. (As a side note, the photo at left is of Rodgers' new 2007 revised edition - I have a 1998 edition). Sure enough, I found a recipe titled Italian Stuffing with Sausage and Parmesan Cheese. I took some liberties with Rodgers' recipe, so I can't exactly give him full credit. Part of it is mine, and part thanks to Trader Joe's. I bought Trader Joe's boxed dry stuffing/dressing mix. I added many of the ingredients in Rodgers' recipe, then I added my own minor changes. So here's what it is: onion, celery (lots), bell peppers, garlic, hot Italian sausage, thyme, oregano, Trader Joe's seasoning packet, some Parmesan cheese, butter and chicken stock. We have some left over, along with some gravy. Delish that will be.
Italian Spicy Sausage Dressing
Source: loosely based on Rick Rodgers' recipe from Thanksgiving 101
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
6 ribs celery, diced (including leaves)
2 bell peppers, chopped, red, orange or yellow, not greet
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage
2 t. oregano
2 t. thyme
1 package Trader Joe's stuffing mix
1 package seasoning mix, from the stuffing mix
1/3 cup grated Parmegiano-Reggiano cheese
1 cube butter, unsalted
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1. Saute the onion and celery until they are translucent. Add bell peppers and garlic, and continue to cook for about 2 minutes. Remove to a bowl and set aside. Add Italian sausage to the pan and cook, breaking up the meat into small pieces as it cooks. Add seasonings and dry herb packet. Drain of any fat and add to the vegetables. (At this point you can refrigerate for a day or two. When ready to complete the dressing, bring to room temp, or heat the mixture in a pan.)
2. Bring the chicken broth to a boil and add the butter. Once butter is melted, turn off the heat.
3. Preheat oven to 325. In a very large bowl place the Trader Joe's cubes. Add the onion, Italian sausage, pepper mixture and 2 spoons, fluff and mix this thoroughly.
4. Have ready a 9x9 ovenproof pan or glass dish. Gradually stir the broth/butter mixture into the bread cubes, tossing as you add. It helps to have somebody else do the pouring.
5. Pour into the 9x9 pan, cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, removing the foil for the last 5 minutes (if you remember). Serve immediately.
Per Serving: 286 Calories; 19g Fat (61.2% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 42mg Cholesterol; 720mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 3 1/2 Fat.
To print a PDF recipe, click title at top.