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The Only Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe I’ll Ever Make Again

The Only Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe I’ll Ever Make Again
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I’ve Experimented with Many Stuffing Recipes. My Family and Friends Have Hated Most of Them

I consider myself a very good cook.  In fact I’m a chef.  I’ve traveled the world studying and learning about cuisines and culinary witchcraft.  This has proven to be an occasional disaster for my very Mid-western family and friends.  Especially when it comes to my stuffing experiments at Thanksgiving, Christmas and some everyday occasions.

I remember making a classic Northeastern stuffing with oysters for my Chicago area family and friends one Thanksgiving. They actually spit it out.  I also did a traditional stuffing with organ meats from the turkey including the heart, kidneys and livers for Christmas years later.  They hated it.

I started to get a little concerned because I thought I was pretty at this cooking deal.  For reasons beyond my comprehension I was nailing everything else, but failing with the stuffing regardless of the season or the reason.  This led me to go the safe route.  Onions, celery, bread cubes, sage and chicken broth. Totally boring and everyone agreed for the simple reason that I never heard a word about it.

The good news is the casserole dish of this basic stuffing was almost gone.  The bad news was not hearing a word about the stuffing.  Worse, I didn’t like it either. Then everything changed.

My grandmother used to make a stuffing.  She actually put it in the bird.  I won’t do that, but did pay careful attention to her recipe and baked it in a casserole. This is not called “stuffing” it’s called “dressing.”   I started to wonder if lawyers were getting involved in my “stuffing” dilemma.

I made this a couple of Thanksgivings ago and figured it would be more of the same.  Everything on the table would be referred to as “great” and not a word about the stuffing.”  I was wrong.  People loved the stuffing.  They even mentioned it to me and some were mad when it was gone.  I felt vindicated.  I felt in control.  Actually I was just relieved that I didn’t have to think about it anymore.

If you want to get over the “Stuffing/Dressing” hump, here’s the recipe.  Try it and see if it works for you.   If you’re from one of those parts of the country where oysters, kidneys and hearts are expected in stuffing -can I come over sometime?

Steve’s Foolproof Midwestern Stuffing: Serves 8 to 12

    • 3 tbsp butter
    • 1 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
    • 8 cups of large, cubed bread (fresh white or wheat baked cubes or chunks at 250 for 30 to 40 minutes)
    • 3 cups chicken or turkey broth (and not a tablespoon more or less)
    • 1 lb Italian sausage sautéed and browned (I use whole, fresh links, steam them in some water and brown and then chop them up and brown the pieces some more)
    • 1 larger Spanish onion diced
    • 1 apple peeled and diced
    • 6 stalks celery sliced
    • 1 tbsp sage
    • 1 tbsp parsley
    • 1 tbsp rosemary
    • 1 tsp seasoned salt
    • 1/2 tsp cracked black peppe


  • Take a loaf of bread and gently cut it into 1 inch cubes or tear it into chunks.nife.  Put themon a cookie sheet and bake in an oven at 250 for about 30 40 minutes or iuntil crisp.  Toss them around on the cookie sheet about half way through.

stuffing bread

  • While the cubes are in the oven, brown the sausage. I prefer whole links of Italian sausage. You could also use a breakfast sausage made with sage.  I cook them in about a cup of water in a frying pan on medium heat to cook them through, brown them after the water cooks off, chop them coarsely and return them to the pan to brown them a bit.  Then I put them aside while I do the rest of this stuff.
  • In a saucepan add the butter, the olive oil and the onions, celery and apples. Add the seasoned salt.  The salt will help them sweat, and cook until onions are translucent.  Add the sausage and cook another minute or two.  Add the sage, the parsley and the cracked black pepper and stir it all around.  Add the 3 cups of broth and simmer for about 10 minutes.

stuffing 2

  • Put the bread cubes into a large mixing bowl and spoon out the solids from your pot with a slotted spoon (onion/celery/sausage/apple) on top of the bread crumbs and toss.  Slowly add the broth and toss as you go.  You want to distribute the broth evenly over the bread cubes.  If you just dump it all in you’ll have some bread sludge with hard bits of bread.  Try to share the moisture with a slow and measured mixing of the liquid and tossing.
  • When your mixture is done, butter the inside of a baking dish that will fit all this stuff and pour it in.  Bake covered at 325 for 45 minutes and continue to bake uncovered for 15 minutes more.  Serve in the dish and you’re done.
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