Stuffing? Dressing? I know that technically this would be called “dressing” because it’s baked separately from the turkey, but it feels wrong for me to call it that. We have always called it stuffing, and dressing is the liquidy stuff that you put on da lettuces. And that’s that!
Just kidding…you can call it whatever you want. Just let it be known that I do accept the fact that the correct term for this deliciousness would be dressing, but I’m rebelling.
So – stuffing – Ima be straight up with you right now. I’ve always hated it. Hated it with the burning passion of fire. It has repulsed me for my entire life. Why? Because…soggy, wet bread plopped on top of my turkey doesn’t appetize me in any way shape or form. Wet bread is not something I desire. And then there’s the herbs. Every stuffing I’ve ever had is always LOADED with herbs. So I have a pile of wet bread that tastes like it has has essentially been soaking in a puree of sage and rosemary for 40 days. YUM! False.
Anyway, I have never liked it (as you can tell by my paragraph-long rant ^^). But I set out to make a version that I did like…
Enter: Ciabatta and Pork Sausage Stuffing
You guys…this stuffing is the perfect amount of moist, has the perfect amount of herbs, is hearty, and is loaded with delicious flavor.
Let’s all just accept the fact that the word “moist” is not appetizing when it comes to describing bread. Let’s just address that elephant in the room. BUT, you have to let it be appetizing when it comes to stuffing. Listen – by moist, I by NO MEANS mean wet at all. No wetness, no soggy-ness, just the perfect amount of moisture. And that perfect amount of moisture is mandatory for me, because anything more than that grosses me out. And then, on the other side of things, if it’s too dry then you just have a pile of bread sitting atop your turkey, and nobody wants that either.
It’s an art, people – stuffing is an art.
SO – let’s talk about why this stuffing is delicious enough to convert me to a stuffing lover.
- The bread. We use an even mix of ciabatta bread and sourdough bread here, and I can’t even tell you what that does for our stuffing. Your bread really needs to have some substance. If not, it will just fall apart into a mushy mess. Not only does the ciabatta and sourdough mixture give some heartiness and fantastic texture to the stuffing, the combination of the two breads yields the most delicious variety of flavor.
- The tasty additions. Pork sausage. Onions. Celery. The pork sausage – not Italian, just regular pork sausage – gives so much flavor, texture, and heartiness to this stuffing. It makes the stuffing almost an entire meal on its own. Don’t tempt me…I could treat it that way on any given week night. The onions and celery bring even more depth of perfectly complex flavor to the stuffing.
- The chicken stock. You have to be careful with this one, because if you add too much, it’ll be wet and soggy. If you add too little, it’ll be dry. Here’s the trick I learned – don’t add chicken stock to the point where there is liquid pooling in the bottom of your mixing bowl. If there’s liquid pooling, you have too much stock. If you have dry bread even after thoroughly mixing, you need more stock. Now, be careful to completely stir your stuffing together before making this judgement. Because I had liquid pooling in my bowl at first and thought I added too much stock, but by the time I really got everything thoroughly combined, no more pooling.
- The herbs. Stop adding so much herbs to your stuffing! Herbs are supposed to be used sparingly, not be the only thing you can taste in the entire dish. Hold your horses, people. We do not measure how thankful you are on Thanksgiving by the amount of herbs you put in your stuffing – you’re good. But fo reals…we only put a tablespoon of herbs in this entire dish. Don’t worry! You can still taste them, but you taste them the amount you should taste them. Geeze louise.
This stuffing is deep golden brown, chewy, and crisp on the very top, and it is perfectly moist (but not soggy!), flavorful, and heavenly underneath. The perfect combo! Both of those elements are very needed.
SO – on a non-Thanksgiving related note. Want to know what happened to us last week? It was quite eventful. So, Seth handled the purchasing of our plane tickets for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. He bought them in the middle-ish of October, so it’s been a bit. I got a text from him on Thursday morning while I was at work that said:
“Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh”
And I was like…oh boy….what happened.
He then told me about how he just found an email that he got on October 26th that said “Hello Seth! It’s time to check in for your Delta flight to Seattle on October 27th!” After doing some research, it turns out that he did buy a ticket on December 21st to Seattle, buuuuttt the return ticket…he bought that one for OCTOBER 27th instead of December 27th…?????????????????????.
So at that point, we were just thinking, “Welp – that sucks. Guess all we can do is buy new tickets.” So I had already researched tickets, selected tickets, had everything ready to go, and just had to click “Purchase” when I decided that I might as well give Delta a call and explain the situation, even though it was slightly embarrassing.
So I did, we chatted, talked about life a little bit, and then, GUESS WHAT? They decide to refund our entire October 27th ticket (for the flight that we already missed) and credit our account for the full refund! And then she booked our new (December 27th) tickets right there on the phone, and guess how much we had to pay? Five buckaroos each. So…ten dollars.
Like…what happened. I was in the best mood all day because of it. I couldn’t believe it! Usually airlines are so stingy (in my experience), so this blew my mind! Something that started out as a huge dang deal ended up being such a tiny deal. Now it just makes for a great story.
And…I love my husband more than anything…but I will be buying the plane tickets from here on out ?.
- ½ pound good ciabatta bread, diced into 1 inch cubes
- ½ pound good sourdough bread, diced into 1 inch cubes
- 1 pound pork sausage (not Italian, just regular [you can find it where the breakfast sausage is])
- 1 stick butter, divided
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 5 stalks of celery, finely diced
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon mixture of fresh minced sage, rosemary, and thyme (try and make it equal-ish parts, but it doesn't matter too much)
- 2 eggs
- Preheat your oven to 250 degrees
- Butter/grease a 9x13 baking dish and set aside
- Dice your bread into 1 inch cubes, spread the cubes out on a baking sheet, and bake for about 40 minutes, or until they are very dry. It is important that the bread cubes are dry so that the stuffing doesn't turn into complete mush! The bread has to be able to hold its own
- Meanwhile, brown your sausage in a large skillet and season with salt and pepper (along with a little olive oil if the pan gets too dry)
- Once browned, remove the sausage to a large bowl and melt ½ stick of butter in the same pan
- To this, add your onions and celery and season with salt and pepper
- Cook the veggies until they are softened, and add the veggies to the bowl with the sausage
- When your bread is done, remove it from the oven, add it to the bowl with the pork and the veggies, and crank your oven up to 375
- Add your chicken stock to your stuffing mixture. Start with the first cup, stir/fold together thoroughly, and from there, add the stock ½ cup or less at a time, stopping when the bread is moist but not wet - stop BEFORE liquid stays pooled at the bottom of your bowl even after stirring thoroughly (I used the entire 2 cups and it was perfect, but it might differ for various people)
- Stir in your herbs
- Taste your stuffing and season with any needed salt and pepper
- Once seasoned properly, add your two eggs and stir until completely and totally combined
- Slice your remaining ½ stick of butter into several thin pats
- Transfer the stuffing into your greased baking dish and place your pats of butter across the top of the stuffing
- Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes
- Remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes, or until the top is a deep golden brown
If you make this or any of my other recipes, be sure to Instagram it and hashtag #thegarlicdiaries!
In the mood for more Thanksgiving recipes? Check these out: