When I was a young mother, Thanksgiving dinner was always prepared by me. The guest list could number anywhere from 12 to 20 people. The Italian American side of the family always wanted a pasta course, but that meant limiting the traditional side dishes that would be served with Turkey.
As my children got older and found their voice at the table, they vehemently expressed their displeasure at being deprived of their favorite side dishes. And the one they missed the most was the traditional turkey “stuffing.”
These days our guest list is a lot smaller, but the demand for the “stuffing” hasn’t changed. As a follow-up to Ronit Penso’s smaller, non-traditional menu for Thanksgiving, I offer up this addition to that menu. The individual servings will give those gathered around the table a small portion of traditional ” stuffing.”
- 2 bags of Pepperidge Farm’s Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing
- 1 lb. Jimmy Dean’s breakfast sausage with sage
- 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) salted butter
- 2 cups diced onion (1 large onion)
- 1 cup diced celery (about 3 stalks)
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
- 1 crisp apple, diced
- 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
- 2 eggs
- 2 ½-3 cups chicken stock
- 1 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
- 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- Preheat oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet and sauté sausage until browned.
- Using a large spoon or meat chopper, break up the sausage into crumbles.
- Remove the sausage and add it to the mixing bowl with the cubes.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in the same skillet and sauté the onion, celery, red pepper, apple, and garlic until softened about 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle with a layer of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Add the softened veggies to the mixing bowl with the cubes and sausage.
- Pour into the mixing bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with 2 cups of broth. Add the egg and broth mixture to the bowl.
- Fold in the pecans, dried cranberries, parsley, sage, and thyme. Add another layer of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
- The bread mixture should be moist all the way through but not wringing wet. Add more stock as necessary to reach the right consistency (between 2-3 cups).
- Working with a heaping handful at a time, pack and shape the stuffing mixture into a firm ball, then press it into a 12-cup non-stick muffin tin that has been liberally sprayed with cooking oil. Make sure the mixture is firmly packed.
- Continue until you’ve run out of the mixture.
- Cover loosely with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for another 10 minutes or until the tops of the muffins are crispy and browned.
COOKS NOTE: This recipe will make 24 muffins. If you have a small group, it can easily be halved. Or alternatively, freeze some of the muffins for a future Roast Chicken Sunday Dinner.