So back to the drawing board. Certain things were staples to me in a dressing: celery, giblets, bread of course. And I looked at a ton of recipes, recalling my own basic one as well, and then came up with what turned out to be a truly good dressing.
We certainly loved it and I hope you will to. Give it a try for Christmas or any other holiday. It’s baked outside the bird, so it’s adaptable to recipes that don’t include a bird. You can substitute the giblets by simply buying a pint of gizzards and hearts at the grocery.
Bonus is that you can make a lot of this ahead of time and just throw it together and bake it on the actual holiday with little additional fuss.
- 1 loaf of Italian bread, sliced, cubed and dried. (slice and leave on cookie sheets for one day, then tear or slide into cubes and leave another day)
- about half of the giblets from your turkey (use the other half for the gravy)
- 2 ribs celery
- 1 lg carrot
- 1 medium onion
- about 1/2 c of fresh herbs (sage, thyme, parsley, oregano, rosemary) minced
- 1/3 lb of pork sausage
- 2/3 of an 8 oz container of mushrooms (button is fine) sliced
- 1/2 c of pecans, chopped and toasted
- 1/2 c dried cherries, chopped
- salt and pepper
- as much chicken stock as needed to dampen the bread, so that when pressed with a spoon, you can see the juice, about 3-4 cups
- 3 tbsp cubed cold butter
- Making the giblets: Place everything but the liver into a saucepan. Add a bouquet of fresh herbs (the same as above, a couple of sprigs of each). Add 1/2 tsp of salt (if your chicken broth is unsalted, otherwise 1/4 tsp). Add 10 peppercorns, crushed. Add a chunk of onion and one clove of garlic crushed. Add broth just to cover. Simmer for about an hour, and then let cool as is. Remove the giblets, chop, dividing in half for the dressing and the rest for gravy. Place the dressing half into a larger plastic container and set aside.
- In a saute pan, place the pork sausage and begin browning, breaking it up into small pieces.
- As the meat is nearly cooked, add chopped onion, carrot and celery and mushrooms and saute until just softened.
- Add to the giblets container and refrigerate until ready to mix everything together and bake. (I don’t recommend you mix the entire recipe and refrigerate. It will make for a gluier dressing than I like)
- When you are nearly ready to bake: put the bread in a large 12 x 16 or so, baking dish. Add the fresh herbs to the container of giblets and veggies and stir, then spread contents on top of the bread. Mix gently.
- Add the butter and mix again, just to distribute.
- Add the pecans and cherries, scattering on the top.
- Pour over the entire casserole the stock, pressing down with a spoon periodically until you can see liquid. Then stop.
- Bake in a 375° oven for about 40 minutes, covered. Check at the 30 minute mark and if it is bubbly, or obviously hot, then take out or reduce just to keep it warm until ready to eat. (temperature can be varied depending on other sides you may be cooking at the same time–adjust your cooking time accordingly.)
NOTES: You can vary this as suits your own family and tastes. You can make it soggier if you like a stickier dressing. You can eliminate the butter if you like it drier. Vary the pork sausage to a spicier type, use Italian sausage, or frankly use a regular harder sausage chopped up. Add bacon (previously cooked and crumbled). You can substitute dried cranberries for the cherries, or use a variety of raisins instead. Substitute walnuts or almonds for the pecans.
SOURCE: Sherry Peyton
OVEN TEMP: 375°
OVEN TIME: 40 min.
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