My favorite meal of the year is Thanksgiving, full of traditions, remembrances, and great flavors. Some speak of turkey, or the after the meal pie, but to me it’s all about the dressing.
As a small child I had a big part in this Thanksgiving treasure. My job was to pull the bakery bread apart, ever so gently, while watching the Macy’s Day parade. My favorite giant balloon was Bullwinkle––always the last special parade feature before the big man himself, Santa.
I thought the bread pulling would go on forever…slice after slice, loaf after loaf. Thinking back, the celery and onions were the first vegetables I was allowed to cut. Then I would sauté the pork breakfast sausage and break it into tiny morsels using the back of a vintage wooden spoon. Finally, I’d mix everything together with dressing up to my elbows.
I keep the dressing ritual alive each year and enjoy it as much now as I did way back when.
The Best Turkey Dressing
Approximately 20, 1/2 cup servings
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1-lb bulk pork breakfast sausage
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups chopped onions (medium diced)
1-1/2 cups chopped celery (medium diced)
3 Jonathan apples, peeled, cored and diced into ? inch squares
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Salt to taste depending on the saltiness of the stock and the pork sausage
4 cups of chicken stock
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 whole eggs
1/2 cup milk
20 cups of cubed dried bakery white bread (crusts removed) I air-dry the bread for 24 hours beforehand
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
Using a large skillet, sauté the pork breakfast sausage until well done, and break it into tiny morsels, by using the back of a wooden spoon. When done, remove sausage from pan and reserve. Remove all but 3 tablespoons of drippings from the pan then add the olive oil.
Add the onions and celery and sauté over medium heat until translucent, then add the apples and continue to cook for a few minutes. Add the sage, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Add the chicken stock and simmer until the mixture is well heated through.
In a bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk and parsley. In a large bowl, place the bread cubes and top with the cooked vegetables and stock mixture. Mix well and add the egg, milk and parsley mixture. Toss in the crumbled cooked pork sausage.
Put the mixture into a buttered 4-quart casserole, or large roasting pan, and dot with the remaining butter. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, then remove the cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes until slightly brown and crispy. Internal temperature should reach 165 degrees before serving.
I think you'll agree...this is the best turkey dressing ever!