mom’s sausage stuffing with chestnuts and apples

Thanksgiving morning growing up, my mom would start the stuffing first thing, chopping onions and apples, browning the sausage, and toasting nuts.  She would have the whole thing ready by 10:00 am and then set it aside in a buttered casserole dish until just before dinner, when she’d plop it in the oven to warm and crisp up. 

The smell of stuffing cooking, kitchen windows steaming in the cold air, is the holiday for me – more than even pumpkin pie or turkey, it’s the intoxicating smell of caramelized pork sausage, fresh herbs, sweet onions, and apples that means Thanksgiving.

Delicious slathered with a little gravy alongside your turkey or snacked on straight from the pot,  I think the greatest joy of bread stuffing comes the day after, when leftovers are stacked high on turkey sandwiches with mayo, cranberry relish, and thinly sliced radishes. 

Hope you all have a very happy holiday weekend.

Some Other Thanksgiving Ideas from the Archives:

  1. Mango Gingerbread Upside Down Cake (use apples or pears instead of the mango.)

(My Adaptation of) Mom’s Sausage Stuffing with Apples and Chestnuts

Serves 8-12 as part of a large meal. 

  • 1 pound whole chestnuts to yield about 1 cup toasted chopped chestnuts.  (You can substitute the pre-peeled jarred chestnuts or use another nut such as pecans or hazelnuts.)
  • 1 pound (3-4 links or 450g) sweet Italian pork sausage
  • 2 tbsp butter or olive oil (if needed)
  • 2 apples, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 1 day old loaf thick crusted rustic bread, cubed
  • 3-4 cups good quality chicken stock
  • Small bunch thyme, leaves removed and chopped*
  • Small bunch sage, chopped*
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup dried currants or golden raisins
  • Salt and pepper

*About half of one of those small plastic clamshells herbs come packed in American grocery stores.  You can also substitute any herbs you like here – marjoram and/or a little rosemary are also nice.   

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spread the chestnuts on a baking tray and, working with a sharp knife, very carefully score each chestnut with an “x.”  Chestnuts have a tendency to slide around – I find holding each nut with a dish towel while you cut will make this process easier and less dangerous to your fingers.  Roast the scored nuts 30 minutes until the peels are pulling away from the nuts.  Cool slightly and then remove the shells and inner linings of the nuts.  (This can be a pretty difficult and time-consuming process depending on the batch of chestnuts – I like to recruit help, pour wine, and turn up the stereo.)  Once shelled, coarsely chop the chestnuts and set aside – you’ll want about 1 cup for the stuffing. 

Set a large deep pot over medium-high heat.  Remove the sausage from its casing and add it to the pan.  Stir to break apart the meat and cook until brown.  If your sausage is on the lean side and there isn’t much fat in your pan, add a little butter and/or olive oil before adding the vegetables (about 2 tbsp.)  Add the apples, onions, and celery to the pan and sauté until soft, 5-8 minutes.  Add the bread cubes to the pan and mix to coat them with the sausage and vegetables.  Add the chicken stock, ½ cup at a time until the bread is nicely moist.  You may not need all the stock.  Add the herbs, dried fruit, and chestnuts and mix to combine.  Reduce the heat and cook an additional 5 minutes. 

At this point, the stuffing can be transferred to a buttered casserole dish, cooled, and set aside or refrigerated up to 1 week.  When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and heat covered for 20 minutes, then uncover and heat an additional 10-20 minutes to slightly crisp the top. 

Cooled stuffing can also be used, in the true sense of its name, to actually “stuff” your turkey!  I generally fill my bird with chopped apples, onions, and herbs and leave the stuffing on the side because I hate wrestling the stuffing out of a piping hot bird before dinner, but I know plenty of folks who prefer their stuffing inside the turkey. 

  1. Pingback: chocolate whisky pecan tart: just because | Simmer Seasonal Recipes

  2. either youve removed my earlier comment or its got lost?? to the publisher… you’ve missed a few typos near the ending

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