Every year, up until her passing this spring, my Grandmother, Emma Green, would make her Thanksgiving stuffing the day before Thanksgiving. Rather than bring it to our house ahead of time, she’d either leave the stuffing at her apartment or hide it somewhere in our house so that we wouldn’t pick at it all day and it could actually end up on the dinner table untouched. Good luck with that…
The whole day was about cheating and making small plates of whatever was ready first; the actual sit down meal was sometimes a let down because we’d all already be full. Here’s how she would make her stuffing, and for the first year ever we’ll be making it (exactly the same), without her.
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 button mushrooms, cut into quarters
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
¼ white onion, finely chopped
2 links fennel-infused Italian sweet sausage, casings removed and crumbled by hand
Two fresh rolls of Italian sesame seed bread, ripped into small pieces by hand, crust on
4 cups homemade chicken stock
1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
Salt and a generous amount of freshly cracked black pepper
Couple of sprigs of thyme
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large sauté pan set over medium heat, heat the olive oil and cook the mushrooms, celery and onion until soft but not too brown (most of the color from the dish will come from the time in the oven).
Toss the cooked vegetables with the crumbled sausage and bread pieces. Season everything with salt and top with 4 cups of chicken stock. It’s important to have more stock than what appears necessary because the bread is going to absorb most of it, ensuring a moist stuffing.
Pour into a well-greased, low-sided casserole pan. It’s important not to pile the stuffing too high to ensure a the top evenly crisps. Scatter the pieces of butter on top and finish with a good amount of fresh cracked black pepper and some picked thyme. Place in the oven for at least 30 minutes, or until crispy golden on top.
Before serving, spoon over some turkey pan drippings. By some, I mean a lot. Because Grandma was Italian, sometimes she would garnish with freshly grated parmesan for the greatest rendition of “disco fries and gravy” you could imagine.