This is a recipe that is very near and dear to my heart. It is my favorite stuffing recipe ever. I’ve never had anything nearly as good as this particular stuffing. When I was living at home, I looked forward to Thanksgiving every year because I knew that my mom would make her infamous stuffing. I used to especially look forward to making “Thanksgiving sandwiches” when I was in high school, which generally consisted of turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, and, of course, my mom’s stuffing. These sandwiches were not completely without this stuffing, and I probably wouldn’t even bother making one if there were no stuffing leftovers. I believe that there were even times, coming home late on the weekends when I was 16 or 17, and helping myself to a spoonful or two of cold stuffing. It really was that good! Even after I moved out and was in college, I would beg my mother to make this stuffing whenever chestnuts were in season. I’ve been known to convince my mom to make this stuffing twice in the same week, as my birthday always falls within a week of Thanksgiving, and I was never able to get enough of this stuff. Even my friends from high school and college, upon tasting some of my mom’s stuffing, would rave about how delicious it was. I only started making it myself a year ago, because, as I’m sure you all know, there are just some things that are better when your mom makes them. Now that I live in New York, thousands of miles away from home, I do have to make it myself, and while it’s delicious, it’s just never going to be as good as when my mom used to make it for me.
Now, let me actually tell you about this phenomenal stuffing. It’s got everything that, in my opinion, a proper stuffing should have. It has freshly roasted chestnuts, which are add a lovely buttery, nutty flavor. It has chopped apples, which add a bright element to the stuffing, as well as sweet Italian sausage, which is rich, hearty, and absolutely delicious. The sausage pairs very well with the tart dried cranberries, as well as the aromatic rosemary and the sweet, licoricey tarragon. All of the flavors work together in such a way that one would be happy to eat this stuffing alone, as a meal, I promise you that. Even my husband, who generally hates fruit in savory dishes, and doesn’t even like stuffing that much, went back for seconds of this. You will be as addicted as I am to my mom’s stuffing after you make a batch of it, guaranteed. Whether you stuff your turkey with it or simply eat it as a side dish (I do both), your friends and family will be begging you for the recipe afterward. I know that this is the time where everyone starts to put the finishing touches on their Thanksgiving menus, so I hope that you will have the foresight to put this stuffing on your list. It will be, without a doubt, the most shining star of your Thanksgiving table.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage (removed from its casing) and break apart with a wooden spoon. Cook until there is no more pink in the sausage, about 8-10 minutes.
Add in the cooled sausage, the cooled onions and garlic, dried cranberries, and the stuffing cubes. Stir to combine. Add in the Worcestershire sauce, chicken broth, salt, and pepper and stir to combine.
- 25 chestnuts (I used fresh, but you can buy pre-roasted chestnuts at the grocery store)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 apple, diced
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons fresh tarragon, minced
- 6-7 cups stuffing cubes (about 10 ounces; feel free to use homemade bread crumbs, if you have them)
- 2-3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees F. Place the chestnuts on a lined baking sheet. Cut a ⅛-inch deep slit around the entire chestnut to allow steam to escape from them while they roast. Roast for 30 minutes or so, until tender. Allow to cool completely before peeling. After peeling, chop roughly and place in a large bowl. Reduce the heat in the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, casings removed, and break apart with a wooden spoon. Cook until there is no more pink in the sausage, about 8 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon to a separate surface to cool.
- Add a tablespoon of butter to the skillet, melt over medium-high heat, and add the diced onion. Saute until translucent, about 8 minutes or so. Add in the minced garlic and saute for another minute or two, until fragrant, then remove from heat.
- In the bowl with the chestnuts, add the diced apple, dried cranberries rosemary, minced tarragon, cooled sausage, and cooled onion and garlic mixture. Toss to combine. Add in the 6 cups of stuffing cubes, then 2 cups of chicken broth, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine, then add in more stuffing and/or chicken broth, depending on the consistency of stuffing that you prefer.
- Place the stuffing back in the skillet that you used to cook the sausage and onions. Pat down with your wooden spoon, then cook at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes, until golden. Serves 6 people as a side.