Short Stack Editions are tiny tomes with recipes that focus on one ingredient. Their first compilation cookbook is a vibrant collection with an impressive author roster of great chefs, and we couldn’t be more excited to cook our way through. Prepare yourself for some brand-new dishes from familiar names, and if holiday dinner is the name of the game, try this sausage and mushroom stuffing.
Stuffing is like pizza (and some of life’s other great pleasures): There’s an endless supply of perfectly decent encounters, very few “bad” ones, and even fewer that are “the most amazing ever.”
In our attempt to make the best stuffing you’ll ever have, our version pulls a few tricks. We start by making a flavorful soup with double-strength chicken (or turkey) stock and browned vegetables. When it comes time to combine the soup with the bread, we add a little bit at a time to ensure we hit that sweet spot between dry and soggy, then add some brown butter and a mix of sautéed mushrooms to boost the dish’s meaty, roasted flavors. If you’re serving stuffing with roasted turkey or chicken, use as many leftover scraps and trimmings from the bird as you can gather: Leftover fat can (and should) replace some of the butter; freshly made stock always eclipses canned; and sautéed gizzards—if the gravy hasn’t already called dibs—will make your stuffing taste as though it was cooked inside the bird, just like in the old days. (Technically, stuffing is “dressing” if it’s not cooked in cavitatem, but “dressing” has always sounded so Waspy to us.)
- 1 1-pound sourdough loaf
- 4 cups chicken or turkey stock, preferably homemade
- 1 cup dry vermouth or white wine
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more for the baking dish
- 1 pound Italian sausage (hot, sweet or a mix), casings removed
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 1 small fennel bulb, diced
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 1 teaspoon celery seeds, optional
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped sage
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups mixed mushrooms, stems removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
For the stuffing
Preheat the oven to 300°F and grease a 9 x 11-inch baking dish. Using a serrated knife, cut the bottom crust off the loaf and discard or save it and use it to make bread crumbs. Cut the loaf into 1-inch slices, then tear the bread into jagged bite-size pieces (you can also cut the bread into neat, uniform cubes, but we like our stuffing looking rugged). Spread the bread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until it’s dry and lightly toasted, stirring a couple of times, about 30 minutes. (If you’re making this a day ahead, you can skip the baking step and let the bread dry out on the counter overnight.) Transfer the bread to the largest mixing bowl you own. Turn the oven up to 375°F.
Meanwhile, bring the stock and vermouth to a boil in a saucepan and reduce by half, about 10 to 15 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Melt 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it into small pieces with a metal spatula, until browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to the bowl with the bread. Lower the heat to medium-high and add the onion, fennel, celery, celery seeds, if using, and garlic to the pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the thyme and sage. Add the reduced stock, bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and strain the broth into a measuring cup (you should have 2 to 2 1⁄2 cups) and pour the vegetables over the bread. Add the parsley and toss well. Season the broth with salt and pepper.
In the same large skillet, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) of butter over medium-high heat. Continue cooking the butter until it just begins to brown and smells nutty, about 2 to 3 minutes, then add the mushrooms. Turn the heat to high and sauté until the mushrooms begin to brown, 3 to 4 minutes; season with salt. Pour the mushrooms over the bread mixture. Add half of the reserved broth and toss well; if the bread soaks up all of the liquid (it should), add a splash more and toss again, adding more broth until the bread stops soaking it up.
Transfer the stuffing to the baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is golden brown and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes longer. Let the stuffing cool for 10 minutes before serving.