Thanksgiving is almost here! The holiday of giving thanks for family, friends, food, fun, football, and anything we have to be grateful for! My husband's favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, and his favorite Thanksgiving food is stuffing, so it's important to me to make sure that we have some good stuffing on the table for him to enjoy. This is the "recipe" that has been passed down for several generations in my family, originally just using the cheapest possible ingredients (the bulk of the stuffing was originally stale bread and the lowest quality sausage). I put recipe in quotes because in my family we view recipes more as interesting suggestions than a set of rules to cook by.
Ingredients (all an approximation):
One pound of sausage (whatever quality you can afford)
1-3 loaves of bread (depending on the size) - ripped or cut into approx 1 inch cubes
5 apples (cored, I also peel them but you don't have to)
Bottle of white wine. Or red, or whatever. You may not use it all, but then you can drink it :)
2 cloves of garlic
Herbs: sage, thyme, rosemary (fresh is best)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large frying pan, brown sausage (I find it browns faster when it's all cut up. You will eventually want it broken into crumbles).
While the sausage is browning, roughly chop onions and press the garlic. When the sausage is 3/4 of the way done cooking, push it to the side in the pan and cook the onions and garlic in the sausage juices.
When the onions are semi-translucent mix the sausage and onions all in together and let them cook a bit.
If the sausage mixture starts to stick to the bottom, pour some wine in to deglaze the pan. Once the sausage is fully cooked, I add in all the apples and the herbs to taste (or smell). Do not add in salt or pepper yet. You may not need to at all, I rarely do.
After letting the sausage/apple mixture cook and combine a bit, I start adding in the bread.
I generally add the bread little by little to help it all mix in. Here in Italy, I buy freshly baked bread and then cut it into cubes and leave it out to let it go stale (this can be done several days in advance which helps a lot of with your day=of or day before prep). You can really use whatever bread you want, but bread that used to be yummy and now is stale is perfect for the stuffing.
As I add in the bread, I mix the whole thing around. The key thing here is to make sure that the liquids evenly distribute. Typically stuffing goes in the turkey (hence the name stuffing) and therefore it soaks in all the yummy turkey fat, but since I am doing the stuffing completely outside the turkey, it's important to add in yummy liquids. The sausage and apple liquids help with this, but then additional liquid is needed. I like to use white wine, but you could also use red wine or chicken/vegetable stock or apple cider or apple juice or even beer, or pretty much whatever liquid you could see complimenting any of the ingredients in the dish. My dad often uses eggs to help the stuffing be moist and to help it stick together when it is baked later.
Keep mixing the whole thing and adding more liquid until it's evenly mixed and there is no dry bread.
All of the steps up until this point could be done the day before Thanksgiving, which I find to be a huge help in reducing Thanksgiving cooking stress!
Preheat the oven to 350F (177C). Pour the whole mixture into a baking dish, and bake for about 20 minutes or until the whole thing is hot and possibly a little bubbly.
Sorry, I don't have good pictures... I'll work on that. These pictures are from a batch where I used red wine, which is why it's dark :)