When I started following food blogs, I realized some authors had initiated them for the purpose of cataloging family recipes. Therefore the blog was their family cookbook essentially.
I didn’t think much of that concept, because I really didn’t have family recipes. My recipes were those I followed after I got married, when I began cooking seriously, based on saved recipes, those from cookbooks, or these days, recipes online as well.
Every day or two that I cooked, I made a new recipe. Thus my motto – so much food, too little time! There was always something to learn from a recipe, whether a technique or new ingredient.
And then there were holidays, like Thanksgiving. Of course I always made a turkey, but I never made it the same way, which also led to various-tasting gravies. But the side dishes were always different. When my daughters were really young they didn’t take part in the leisurely Thanksgiving meal, so it was an opportunity make new festive dishes – sometimes embracing our favorite global cuisines!
But when my daughters got older, they had Thanksgiving requests. Fine with me, but then I had to figure out what they were requesting. Like their request recently for sausage stuffing. No clue. What kind of sausage? What else is in it? No memory. Was it cornbread? Sourdough? Not sure.
Well great. Now I’m wishing that I’d documented this mysterious Italian sausage stuffing for my own purpose! So this recipe is one I’m (maybe) recreating so that next year I can remember it! I’m pretty sure it’s French-bread-based, and I remember using cognac and cream in the stuffing, inspired by a French recipe ages ago.
And the reason I didn’t post it before Thanksgiving is that I don’t only cook turkeys in November. This stuffing doesn’t have to be stuffed in a bird, either. It makes makes a nice side dish, prepared in a baking dish.
Italian Sausage Stuffing
2 tablespoons butter
16 ounces Italian sausage, crumbled
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup of cream, or more
1 tablespoon cognac
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
If you’re baking the stuffing in a baking dish, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and grease an 8 x 8” baking dish; set aside.
Remove the crusts from the baguette and crumble the bread. Measure 2 cups; set aside.
Heat the butter in a large skillet. Cook the sausage over medium heat until no pink shows. Using a slotted spoon, remove to a bowl.
Using the remaining fat, saute the onion for about 5 minutes, now allowing too much caramelization. Stir in the garlic, and place the sautéed vegetables with the sausage.
Stir the bread crumbles into the sausage mixture gently, then pour the cream and cognac over the top. Stir again gently, and check to see if the stuffing is moist. You don’t want it wet, but it also shouldn’t be dry.
Add the remaining ingredients. Spoon the stuffing into the baking dish and bake, uncovered, for approximately 30 minutes.
The top should be golden brown.
If you prefer, any kind of bread – corn bread or whole-grain variety – can be substituted for the French bread, and I’ve even used raisin bread in stuffings.
Plus, pecans and dried cranberries can be included as well.
And as I mentioned, you don’t only have to make stuffing on turkey day. Here I’ve served it with a turkey cutlet, but it’s just as delicious with chicken.
The stuffing is moist but not mushy, which is to my liking.