First, let me say, that stuffing is one of the greatest gifts that gods have given men. If Prometheus was punished swiftly and meanly for handing over Zeus’s fire to us mortals, whichever demi-god stole stuffing from the stove of Mount Olympus is likely self-flagellating with a giant trout whilst listening to Creed in some far-flung hell for all eternity. Second, what I made is technically dressing. ‘Cause moist meat and bread and egg cooking together inside the cavity of a big ass bird? Gross.
Stuffing makes me happy. The simpler the better. To each her own, I try to remember. But honestly, I would rather eat a furry hand than a hot oyster, and chestnuts seem like something that grows under piles of moldering rubble in a hoarder’s whorehouse. I am perhaps a little more squeamish than I would like to admit. Also, this is our first Thanksgiving back in the USA after four years in Mexico, and I am craving a return to the basics.
In truth, growing up, a typical holiday table at my family’s house boasted an antipasto platter of oranges, celery, olives and anchovies, as well as piles of cured meats and cheeses, escarole soup with tiny meatballs, a red sauce baked pasta course e.g., stuffed shells, finally followed by turkey with all the trimmings. So our Thanksgiving dinner is shaping up to be less of a reckoning with our respective roots, and instead the beginning of new traditional dishes and rituals.
I followed the Real Simple recipe for sage and sausage stuffing. Because while I like to read about sophisticated fare, I am first trying to become more masterful with less complex steps and ingredients. I just wanted to make a really delicious, pleasing side dish this year, and perhaps later learn to work with multi-faceted recipes and elaborate processes. Still, it took me the better part of the evening, because I am trying to be more careful and methodical in my life.
I can see why housewives turned to Stove Top. And there is so nothing wrong with that. Stove Top stuffing is friggin’ sensational. But I wanted to unpack the flavors of this classic American dish, to get to the bottom of what makes it so beautiful. I spent my night messing up the kitchen the best way possible: with butter and bread and herbs. This is how I made the dressing I hope freezes well:
Sage & Sausage Stuffing
Adapted from a recipe in Real Simple
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 lbs sweet Italian sausage
- 16 cups stale baguette
- 4 stalks of celery
- 2 medium yellow onions
- 1 plastic packet of sage
- 1 packet of parsley
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
In a deep sautee pan I browned sausage in olive oil on medium, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, after seven minutes set aside to drain. I melted the butter – almost an entire stick! – added chopped celery and onion, cooked until glistening, almost brown, added wine to the pan, two minutes later turned the heat off. Meanwhile, I made little cubes of the bread, chopped the herbs and measured chicken stock. When the vegetable mixture has cooled, combine everything in a huge bowl. ( I had to use our lobster pot.) Actually, before you add the eggs, check the salt and seasoning, so you don’t get salmonella. In a buttered crock we baked a small amount but all the rest went into the freezer, where it shall wait to become glorious and praised this Thursday afternoon. Happy Thanks-Stuffing!