Yep, I made an actual stuffing recipe for you this year.
So I feel like I don’t ask enough about you guys. What are your Thanksgivings (or other holidays if you don’t have Thanksgiving) like? And I’m not just saying that, I’d really love to hear and I’m always fascinated by the way holidays are celebrated internationally too.
Warning: I rambled a lot in this post so feel free to skip to the recipe. My family has had a pretty dependable set of traditions for as long as I can remember but they’ve been changing more and more each year now that we’re all getting older. My big sis Olivia is married with her first baby and this will be little Ryder’s first holiday season which makes it extra special. Two years ago we were doing Thanksgiving dinner for a bunch of new Chilean friends while staying in a rental house. I was doing my best to make do with what was already in the kitchen (even though a lot of it was ancient) to make all of our favorite dishes for them to try.
That was definitely not our typical holiday. Growing up my Thanksgivings went something like this: Get up (wearing only the fluffiest Christmas jammies, of course, because we actually had snow) and adore the tree and decorations that have been freshly put up the previous weekend. Watch a bit of the Macy’s parade, fast-forwarding all the commercials until we get tired of doing that, then turn on Miracle on 34th Street (this is still a must!) Help my dad and Liv peel and chop the potatoes to soak because he’s our potato guy (It’s not a huge deal but it’s our thing. One year he and Liv did it without me and I was so upset.)
My sisters and I would then work on desserts, appetizers, and or any of the small things that we didn’t already make the day before. After that Mom usually started on her things which were typically stuffing, turkey, gravy, and sometimes ham. (Another thing we all love to do together is tearing the bread for the stuffing to let it dry out the night before. Sophie loves this.) Usually Liv did the sweet potato casserole, I did the side veggies, and my Meme did the homemade rolls (although a lot of years we just bought frozen). And I can’t forget my aunt Rebecca’s famous chicken noodle soup that she brought every year when lived on the same continent. It’s so good over the mashed potatoes.
My dad would sometimes watch some of the football game when he got forced out of the kitchen from too many people (I love that nostalgic crowd-cheering sound in the background now.) Our day would usually finish with a favorite Christmas movie, some games, and lots of desserts. I’m so full just thinking about it. Of course, the years when we actually started dinner on time we would usually be breaking out leftovers and making sandwiches on the rolls before the night was over.
Yeah, nothing too unusual. It won’t be exactly like that this year. Since I’ve become a kitchen robot now I’ll probably end up contributing a bit more than when I was little, and this year we’ll be spending the day with some new friends, but we still always try to stick with as many traditions as possible. I know for sure that I will be found in the kitchen all day long (same as every other day), but that’s what I love.
Anyway, now that I’ve bored you to tears I should get to the recipe. Last week I shared a recipe for calzones that tasted kind of like my mom’s traditional stuffing, but this week I made stuffing that doesn’t taste like her traditional at all. I wanted to try something new since not everyone in my family likes the usual stuffing every Thanksgiving. What I found ironic was that the ones who liked this the most were the few that don’t like traditional stuffing, and the ones who do love Mom’s stuffing didn’t like this as much.
I added some fresh pesto I made with almonds and used some leftover cornbread I had on hand. I’m including both in the recipe but feel free to use store-bought of either to keep this fast and simple. I also like to use homemade chicken stock and season my own Italian sausage, but since time is short during the holidays I know most of you prefer to use the shortcuts so, again, I’m keeping it as simple as possible on the ingredient list.
So if you’re looking for a new flavor for your stuffing this year you should definitely try this. I still added apples and some herbs but other than that this is pretty different from the usual, at least our usual. I know we’re getting pretty close to turkey day now so I hope you all still have time to add this to your menu. I thinking about making this to go along side my mom’s this year because it’s always nice to have variety.
- 5 cups whole wheat bread squares
- 5 cups cornbread squares (recipe follows)
- 1 pound fresh mild Italian sausage
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium apples, peeled and chopped into cubes
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup basil pesto (recipe follows or you can use store-bought)
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
- 3 eggs
- 3-4 cups chicken stock
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk or greek yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup raw almonds (you can sub walnuts)
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, tightly packed
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 cups olive oil
- 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C) and grease a 13 x 9 inch pan with butter. Toast the bread and cornbread squares on a foil lined baking tray in oven for 8 - 10 minutes or until dry and crisp.
- Cook sausage in a medium skillet over medium high heat, breaking into pieces as it cooks, until nicely browned with no pink spots. Remove with a slotted spoon to a separate dish and add onion, garlic, and apples to pan. Cook for 4 - 5 minutes until softened then remove from heat and stir in the pesto, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and fresh oregano.
- Add dried bread squares, cooked sausage, and onion mixture to a large bowl and toss ingredients together until well combined. Whisk eggs together with 2 cups of stock in a medium bowl and pour evenly over mixture and gently stir until evenly wet.
- Pour mixture into greased pan and bake for 18 - 20 minutes until top is starting to brown. Remove from oven and pour an additional 1 cup of stock over stuffing and use a large spatula to carefully fold and stir as well as possible without it all falling out of pan. Return to oven and bake for 10 - 15 more minutes until browned on top,
- If the stuffing seems too dry add 1 more cup of stock an bake about 5 minutes more. Serve hot!
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C) and grease a 8x8 inch (or similar size) pan with oil.
- Stir together the melted butter, oil, sugar in a large mixing bowl. Mix in eggs until well combined, then add buttermilk, soda, and salt. Stir in flour and cornmeal until batter is smooth, Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 - 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Combine all ingredients for pesto in blender or food processor and pulse until roughly smooth.
- This can be made ahead of time and stored in refrigerator until ready to use.