Hands down, my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is stuffing. Who can be mad at super flavorful butter-laden bread? That being said, I have a few hard and fast rules. Number 1, you’ve gotta use fresh bread, no packaged stuffing here (Mom, I’m looking at you!). I always reach for sourdough because I love the acidity and flavor it adds. Number 2, add lots of celery and fresh herbs! I love the vegetal note celery lends to stuffing and is it really Thanksgiving without a little fresh sage? Number 3, don’t stuff the bird! I know, I know, not stuffing the bird *technically* makes this dressing, but it will always be stuffing in my book. Plus, if you stuff the bird you miss out on all those crunchy bits on top!
- 2 loaves (about 1 ¼ pounds each) sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/ 4 cup olive oil
- 1 pound pork sausage, casings removed
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 stalks celery, trimmed and diced
- 3 leeks, pale white parts only, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Black peppercorns, freshly ground, to taste
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2-3 cups stock, chicken or turkey
Preheat oven to 400ºF and butter a 9 x 12-inch baking dish. Add the bread cubes to two large baking sheets and drizzle with olive oil. Toast for about 20 minutes, tossing the bread around halfway through, and rotating pans, until golden brown and crispy.
Meanwhile, in a large dutch oven, add sausage and cook over medium heat until fat has rendered and sausage is crisp, about 5-7 minutes. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of fat remaining in the pan.
Add butter to the same skillet and, once melted, add onions, celery and leeks. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until very tender.
Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste. Add the fresh herbs, then deglaze the pan with the white wine, making sure to scrape up any brown bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan.
In a very large mixing bowl or pot, combine the vegetable mixture with the toasted bread cubes and sausage. Add the stock, adding just enough to moisten the bread completely. You may not need all of the stock.
Add the stuffing mixture to the prepared baking dish. Bake at 400ºF for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.