Saturday, November 19, 2011

Menu Ideas for Thanksgiving: Sausage, Chestnut and Mushroom Dressing

For the past several years, I’ve switched from the stuffing recipe I grew up with to this one from William & Sonoma.  Now that I’m gluten-free, I no longer imbibe on it (I really need to work on a gluten-free version), but still prepare it for my family’s enjoyment.  The chestnuts add a really wonderful dimension to it.

Sausage, Chestnut and Mushroom Dressing

4 Tbspns (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 lb. mild Italian sausage, casings removed
2 yellow onions, diced
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
7 oz. cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 1/2 tsp. minced fresh sage
2 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 cup roasted and peeled chestnuts, halved (I purchase them from William & Sonoma in a jar)
1 package (1 lb) stuffing – I use the La Brea Bakery focaccia stuffing (also found at William & Sonoma)
2 Tbspns minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 to 4 cups chicken stock, warmed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 3-quart baking dish with 1 Tbs. of the butter.
In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, cook and crumble the sausage until lightly browned and cooked through, about 7 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.

In the same pan, over medium heat, melt the remaining 3 Tbs. butter.  Add the onions and fennel and sauté until soft, about 10 to 12 minutes.  Add the garlic, mushrooms, thyme, sage, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown, about 12 minutes.  Stir in the sherry.  Let cool to room temperature.

In a very large bowl, combine the sausage, vegetable mixture, chestnuts, stuffing an parsley.  Stir in the warmed stock 1/2 cup at a time, making sure it is completely absorbed into the crouton stuffing.  Taste a crouton, it should be moist throughout but not crunchy or mushy.  You may not need all of the stock.  Transfer the stuffing to the prepared baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. 
Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is golden brown and crisp, 25 to 35 minutes more. 
Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.  Serves 10 to 12. 

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