Sausage and Herb Torn-Bread Dressing

I get bored with “traditional” Thanksgiving dishes, so this year I tried three totally new dishes:

Golden Torn Bread Dressing
Alton Brown’s Bourbon Pecan Pie
Swiss Chard Gratin

They were all good, but that dressing was the definite winner. I made a bunch of changes and substitutions to use up ingredients I already had and to adjust for my family’s food sensitivities, and it was still delicious. I ate it the next morning for breakfast with gravy. I had another piece that night. It was so good I made it again Sunday for dinner. We were having company and made a semi-fancy dinner. I made even more adjustments and liked it even better. Thank you, Cozy Apron!

I grew up eating my grandmother’s dry bread stuffing/dressing with onions and celery with lots of ground thyme and sage, or my parents’ cornbread stuffing. They were a necessary part of winter holiday dinners, but I was never inspired to make them for regular meals at home. This recipe I’ll be making over and over. Make it once with a roast chicken and then throw the chicken carcass into the crockpot to make the stock for the next batch of dressing.

Sausage and Herb Torn-Bread Dressing

This is definitely one of those recipes where the quality of the ingredients really stands out. The flavors are all layered and distinct and meld together into a lovely whole.

1 1-lb crusty baguette, preferably a day or two old
1/2 tbl butter
1/2 lb fresh andouille, or any quality fresh bulk sausage
4 oz Cypress Point Creamery Aged Magnolia, or any semi-hard strong cheese like gouda or gruyere, grated
2 1/2 cups strong, rich chicken or turkey stock
2 big handfuls fresh flatleaf parsley, chopped
1 handful of fresh chives, minced
2-3 tbl fresh sage and thyme, minced
2 eggs, beaten
1 crisp baking apple, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
salt & pepper

Turn the oven on to 350. Use the butter to grease a 9×13 baking pan. Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the sausage, and cook and break up until it’s no longer pink. Add the apple and celery, and cook until starting to soften. Add 1/4 c of the stock to deglaze the pan, cover the pan, and take the pan off the heat to cool slightly. Tear the baguette in bite-sized pieces and dump in a big mixing bowl. If the stock is cold, warm in a saucepan or in the microwave until it’s just warm to the touch.

Add the chives, sage, thyme, sausage mixture, beaten eggs, half of the cheese, and half of the parsley to the mixing bowl. Stir to mix thoroughly. Then add the rest of the stock, stirring to make sure that all of the bread gets soaked. Scrape this mixture into the buttered baking dish. Then sprinkle the top with the rest of the parsley, the rest of the cheese, and finally with a bit of salt and a good cracking of pepper.

Bake at 350 until the edges are nice and brown and bubbling and the cheese is starting to brown on top, about 45 minutes. Serve with plenty of gravy!

My andouille is a little spicy, and the original recipe calls for spicy Italian sausage. If you are using a non-spicy sausage and like a little spice to balance the richness of the sausage and cheese, add a good sprinkling of chile flakes or even a chopped red chile to the sausage.

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