Besides the giant turkey, I bet if you asked most Americans what their favorite Thanksgiving dish is they’d say it’s the stuffing. Being included in that party, it’s only appropriate that my first official holiday-related recipe of the year is a classed up version of this favorite side.
For this revamped stuffing, I wanted to use a variety of tastes: buttery brioche bread, savory sausage, sweet apples, tart dried cherries, and crunchy hazelnuts. The pièce de résistance? Hitting the saute pan with sweet and smoky bourbon to deglaze it and concentrate the flavors of the alcohol.
My pro tip for stuffing: Don’t even think about putting it inside your raw turkey and baking it that way — always bake it separately. Stuffing baked inside turkeys gets soaked with raw turkey juices and almost never reaches the proper internal temperature, thus making it one of the biggest causes of food-borne illness during the holidays.
Stay safe and keep it tasty this Thanksgiving, and be sure to try out this updated take on the best addition to your holiday table.
Brioche and Sausage Stuffing with Apples, Dried Cherries and Hazelnuts
Makes about 10-12 servings
1 pound brioche bread loaf, cut into 1-inch cubes (substitute Challah bread if needed)
1 pound bulk pork sausage (preferably with no spices added)
Butter or cooking oil, as needed
1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, stem removed and leaves chopped
A few sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only (substitute 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
2 Gala, Red Delicious, or Honeycrisp apples, core removed and chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup (2 ounces) bourbon (substitute a non-peaty whiskey if needed)
1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut up the bread and spread it out evenly onto two baking sheet trays. Bake for 15 minutes or until it’s toasted and slightly browned. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. (This step can be done a day or two ahead; put cooled bread cubes into an airtight container and keep at room temperature.)
Heat up a large saute pan over medium-low heat. When hot add the sausage in, stirring occasionally to break it up. Just before it is cooked completely, remove sausage from pan, leaving rendered fat in the pan, and place it in a large bowl. If there isn’t enough fat to coat the bottom of the pan, add a little butter or cooking oil.
Raise pan heat to medium and add chopped onions and herbs. Let cook for a minute or two, stirring only occasionally. Add apples to pan, stir to combine, and let cook for another minute. Stir in garlic and dried cherries and cook for a minute, then pour in the bourbon, scraping the bottom of the pan. Raise heat to medium-high and let most of the bourbon reduce, cooking it for about 30 seconds. Pour pan contents into the bowl with the sausage and add in the hazelnuts, stirring to combine. Add half of the toasted bread cubes to the large bowl, mix it up, then add the other half and mix it all to combine. Add some salt and pepper to taste.
In a separate bowl, whisk together broth and eggs, then pour this mixture over the stuffing. Mix well to combine (your hands work best for this) and pour stuffing into a large greased baking pan, preferable 9×13″. Use multiple baking pans if needed. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes and if the top has browned, cover it with foil. Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until puffed up and cooked through. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.