Turkey Stuffing with Italian Bread, Bacon, Sausage, Celery & Sage
Servings: About 12-20 servings
Prep time: 60 minutes
Italian style white bread sliced and cubed
chicken or turkey stock
sliced bacon (smoked preferred)
bulk pork sausage
head of celery sliced
freshly ground pepper
Cut the bread – Depending on the size of the slices, stack two or three at a time and cut into uniform cubes tossing into a large bowl or onto a cookie sheets. You can let the bread sit overnight to begin drying out our immediately proceed to the next step. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Spread the cubes on to two cookie sheets so they are in one layer, bake for about 17 minutes, CHECK OFTEN TO PREVENT BURING, stirring when they start to brown to get a uniform light toasting, remove immediately and return to bowl. Set aside.
Dice the bacon before cooking; it’s easier to get a uniform cut. Break up the sausage once you get it into the pan. Use a large, deep skillet or heavy bottomed pot to cook the bacon and sausage over medium heat until they are thoroughly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. You may want to use two skillets or pots. You may want to drain fat after meats begin to cook depending on how much there is but reserve it for you will want to add some back to the vegetables for flavor.
Melt half the stick of butter in another frying pan over medium-high heat, add the onions and celery and allow them to cook down for maybe 10 minutes or until they become translucent then add sliced mushrooms and sauté the vegetable mixture for about 10 minutes until it begins to incorporate. Add the meats (and maybe some of the reserved fat) and cook together until heated. When fully cooked, transfer mixture to a large bowl. Do not wash skillet.
De-glaze the pan with 1 cup broth, heat to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits, mix with cooked meats and vegetables, cool slightly.
Add the meat and vegetable mixture, sage and poultry seasoning to the bread. Pour 2 cups of the broth mixture over the bread and toss lightly, taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Gradually add broth, less is more and toss to mix, you want damp but not soaked bread, taste and adjust seasoning as you like.
The dressing can be made a day ahead, covered tightly and refrigerated overnight. I don’t like stuffing turkeys, it affects the cooking time and adds to the work load, but if you are going to stuff, do not stuff and then store the turkey ahead of time.
To cook, preheat the oven to 375°. Using the other half stick, butter a baking dish (foil pans work well) and fill with dressing, cover with foil and bake for 30 min. until steamy, remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until top is browned and crispy, remove from oven and cover or transfer to your grandmothers china bowl.
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