Not too long ago, as I was researching stuffings, I learned the difference between ‘stuffing’ and ‘dressing.’ They are the same thing in terms of ingredients but ‘stuffing’ is when you put it in the cavity of the turkey and ‘dressing’ is baked in a casserole. So technically this is a dressing recipe but most people use ‘stuffing’ to refer to both ways of cooking it.
When it became more popular to cook the stuffing in a casserole, I tried it and found that it’s less fuss and mess doing it this way and most importantly I have more control over how moist (dry vs. soggy) the stuffing comes out. If you miss the turkey flavor, instead of the chicken broth, add the juices from the turkey pan when you remove it from the oven to tent and rest.
A long time friend of mine (Thank you, Linda!) put me on to the recipe on the back of the Arrowhead Mills Stuffing package. I used salted butter and added a little more of it. I have also listed some options. I ordered the jarred tree chestnuts online. It was a French brand and they were much better than some packaged chestnuts I bought here. You can use fresh chestnuts that you have roasted or I tried canned water chestnuts and they worked too.
Arrowhead Mills Stuffing is no longer available but any herbed stuffing mix works fine.
You can make this stuffing and add pieces of roasted chicken or turkey for a dinner casserole. Steamed broccoli would be a nice accompaniment.
Stuffing can be put together the day before and cooked the day of.
Chestnut and Mushroom Stuffing With Sausage
- 3 celery stalks, cut in small pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 medium onion, cut in small pieces (about 2 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms
- 1/2 cup butter plus 2 tablespoons, divided
- 10 ounces sausage (recipe for homemade apple and sage sausage below)
- one 12 ounce box or package of herb flavored stuffing like Trader Joe’s Cornbread Stuffing
- 1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 cup peeled and coarsely chopped jarred chestnuts or fresh chestnuts that you have roasted and peeled, or a can of water chestnuts, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage (packed)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups chicken stock
Use one tablespoon of butter to butter a piece of foil, that will be used as a cover while baking, and an 11″ by 7″ (2 1/2 quart) casserole.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add the celery, onions and mushrooms. Cover and let cook 4 minutes. Remove lid and add sausage. Sauté until sausage is cooked. (If you are using the Trader Joes Stuffing, add the seasoning packet at this point.) Add the remaining butter and let it melt. Mix the vegetable mixture with the stuffing mix, parsley, sage, chestnuts, salt and pepper. Spoon into buttered casserole. Poke any large cubes of bread down into the stuffing so when it’s cooked, they won’t dry out and become chewy.
Up to this point can be done the day before and stored in the fridge. Bring the casserole out 30 to 40 minutes before heating to bring to room temperature. Add the chicken broth or turkey juices, cover with the piece of buttered foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove cover and bake 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.
*The original recipe calls for hot Italian sausage meat. If you don’t like spicy, use mild Italian. My godmother uses Jimmy Dean in her stuffing, a recipe she picked up from her mother-in-law that may date back 130 years. Sausage is often made of scraps of meat and can have a lot of chunks of stringy fat in it so I chose to make my own sausage. Go with your own personal taste when it comes to the sausage in this recipe. And if you prefer just to taste the bread, vegetables and herbs, this stuffing is also delicious without the sausage.
Homemade Apple and Sage Sausage
- 1 lb ground dark turkey meat or pork
- 1 honey crisp apple, cored, peeled and grated
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds, partially ground in a mortar and pestle
- 3 garlic cloves, minced using a garlic press
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
Mix all the ingredients together. Can be frozen for later use.