Stuffing is one of my (and probably everybody else’s) favorite side dishes that you only have once a year with your Thanksgiving turkey. For such a rare treat, you might as well spoil yourself a little:
There seem to be an endless variety of ways you can prepare stuffing–from a bag, from inside the turkey, from fresh cornbread, apples, raisins, celery, squash, chestnut, oyster, cranberry–anything in season is pretty much fair game. This particular recipe was inspired by one that I saw online a while back that sounded delicious and slightly different from what I had grown up on. The end result was amazing: rather than the traditional cornbread croutons, you have the tang of sourdough bread, the heartiness of sausage, the earthy flavor of mushrooms, and the creaminess of leeks and goat cheese. There are a lot of really rich, heavy flavors at play in this stuffing, and it is guaranteed to live up to the high expectations everybody brings to the table when they want stuffing. My only disappointment with this recipe was how quickly it was gobbled up–I had to make a second batch to get me through my leftover turkey! Now all I need to do is find an excuse to have stuffing again at some point before next Thanksgiving…
- 1 loaf sourdough bread
- Olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 8 oz mushrooms (whatever kind you like–I’ve used Chanterelle and Porcini, both of which were excellent)
- 2 large leeks
- 0.75 lbs Sweet Italian sausage
- 4 Tbsp fresh parsley leaves
- 1.5 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 Tbsp fresh sage leaves
- 8 eggs
- 1 quart (4 cups) heavy cream
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 5-7 oz goat cheese crumbles
I picked up some nice mushrooms, but they were dried, so at this point, I needed to reconstitute them. So I put the dried mushrooms in a bowl of water and let them sit for 30 minutes. If you have fresh mushrooms, you obviously can skip this step and just clean them off if necessary.
Preheat the oven to 350?F. Chop the bread into smallish (1/2 inch) cubes. If the bread is somewhat stale and already kind of tough, then you can skip this step, but if not, spread the pieces out on a baking sheet and let these guys toast in the oven for 10 minutes, flip them over, and let them go for another 5-10 minutes. Take them out and set the bread aside in a large bowl for later. Don’t turn off the oven (you still want 350?F for later).
Finely chop up the garlic, get some olive oil on medium heat in a pan, and toss in the garlic for 2 minutes or so. While you’re waiting on the garlic, coarsely chop the mushrooms and add them into the pan (I saved the water from reconstituting the mushrooms in a jar–you have chicken broth, vegetable broth, etc, why not mushroom broth? I used some of it in my Thanksgiving turkey gravy). Throw in a pinch of salt (for the mushrooms) and keep stirring until the mushrooms get nice and tender. This should take no more than 10 minutes.
While you’re waiting, there’s some more prep you can knock out of the way. Chop off the useless part of the leeks (the roots and the dark green leaves). Then split the layers of the leeks apart and rinse them well–you don’t want to ruin your stuffing with sand! Dice these up finely and add the diced leeks into the big bread bowl.
Once the 10 minutes have transpired, set the garlic mushrooms aside in the bread bowl.
Now here’s a life or death decision: get done quicker or have fewer dishes to clean! I chose the latter, so back to the hot pan we go. Add the sausages and brown on all sides. I would estimate that cooking the sausages should take you around 10 minutes, but check the instructions that came with the packaging if you’re not sure. Once done cooking, drain off the fat, slice the sausages into ~1/2 inch thick pieces, and set this aside in the big bowl of stuff.
So at this point, your big bowl has bread, mushrooms, sausage, and leeks. Add in finely chopped thyme, sage, and flat-leaf parsley leaves and toss everything together well in the bowl.
Grease a good sized baking pan and spread the contents of the big bowl out in the pan. Now with your bowl empty, whisk eggs, cream, salt and pepper. Yes, it looks like a crazy amount of eggs and cream. Yes, it is necessary–don’t reduce it and don’t substitute (I’ve tried before). Gently pour this mixture all over the bread in your baking pan.
And now the final touch of class: crumble some goat cheese all over surface and press it gently into the bread mixture so its not just floating on top (but it will melt down into things later, which is why you want it on top rather than well mixed throughout). I personally love the taste of goat cheese, but it can really be a deal breaker for some people (crazy people!), so if you’re not sure what camp you’re in, sample a piece first because it can be really strong (it won’t be as strong when combined with everything else–it really complements everything nicely!). If its not for you, you could either use less (or skip the cheese entirely), or maybe consider another sharply flavored cheese, like feta crumbles. Whatever you do, cover the whole thing with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes.
After time is up, remove the foil, baking for another 35 minutes until crispy and golden. Let it cool off a bit before you dig in and enjoy (and enjoy quickly before your guests eat it all up–this one will go fast!)!