I wasn’t going to post this, but I feel like I owe it to you. This is the best stuffing I’ve ever eaten. It’s the one I’ve been making for years, but this year it tasted especially good. Was it the wine? Was it my technique? Doubtful. It’s just a good recipe. I follow it, don’t alter it…..
Simply put this is fantastic. This is the stuffing you want to eat on the holidays, it will make you weep because it’s that good and because you’ve been making lesser versions all your life. There’s no breakfast sausage, no sage, no apples, no greens, no dried fruit. Thank goodness! There’s Italian sausage, bacon, and fennel. The fennel mellows, so even my fennel-ly challenged husband enjoys this. Yes, there’s both bacon and Italian sausage, but not so much that it’s overpowering. It’s the kind of stuffing you want the next day and the day after. Then you remember, it’s not exactly health food, so maybe it’s best to only make it for the holidays. Yummy holidays.
I do make most of it ahead of time. I definitely fall into the category of people who do most of the Thanksgiving prep on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday is simple assembly and into the oven for all my dishes. The bread is cubed separately and stored. The sausage is cooked and the bacon fried on Tuesday and I saute the onions, garlic, and fennel with some of the bacon grease (really is one of my most favorite ingredients). I mix it all up, let it cool down before putting it in a container and into the fridge. On Thursday I take it out and mix it with the rest of the ingredients and cook it up! Exciting and delicious.
Oh by the way, I don’t care if it’s called dressing or stuffing. I just don’t.
Fennel and Sausage Stuffing by Curtis Stone and gleefully made and devoured by me
10 slices applewood-smoked bacon, coarsely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 ounces mild or spicy Italian sausages, casings removed (I do half of each or spicy only and I get bulk sausage if I can)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 fennel bulbs, medium diced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, diced
3/4 cup turkey broth or chicken broth (i use chicken)
1 1-pound French baguette, bottom crust trimmed, bread cut into 3/4-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, beaten to blend
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (if making this all on the same day). In a large skillet (I use nonstick, but if not add a bit of olive oil) , fry up the bacon, but not too too crisp because it will be going into the oven to cook more. Drain off most of the grease leaving about 2 tablespoons. Saute the onion until soft and translucent, add in the garlic and let cook for a minute, then add in the fennel and saute until soft. Transfer all this to a large plate or bowl.
In the same pan add the sausage and cook. Add in the herbs. It’s at this point I add the sausage to the bacon mixture and set it aside to cool and store for finishing on Thursday.
Once you’re ready to cook and the oven is heated to 350. You melt the butter and add in the white wine (I use Aussie wines.) I honestly did this in the microwave this year. In the largest bowl I have I put in the bread cubes and fennel mixture. Then I added in the butter and wine, chicken stock, and eggs and mix very well to combine and distribute the goodness.
Put the stuffing into a 13×9 inch pan and bake for 25 minutes covered with foil, then for another 15 minutes without. I like to take it out and stir at this point then cook it for another 5 minutes since I like my stuffing a bit drier and not as wet. Then just eat and make sure your outfit isn’t too snug.