Thursday, November 27, 2003

Pear, Chestnut and Sage Dressing

Whether to call the starch dish dressing or stuffing is a perennial debate at Thanksgiving tables. The term stuffing is usually used when it is cooked inside the turkey, while dressing is typically cooked in a baking pan. But the name also varies depending on what part of the United States you are from. People who hail from the East and South are more likely to call it dressing. Whatever term you use, the dish is a favorite on Thanksgiving tables from coast to coast.

1-lb. loaf rustic country bread, torn into
1/2-inch pieces
1/2 lb. pork breakfast sausage, casings
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 Bosc pear, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 cup peeled and chopped steamed or roasted
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh sage
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
4 cups chicken or turkey stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Spread the bread out on a baking sheet and let dry overnight.

Preheat an oven to 375°F. Butter a large, shallow baking dish.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, brown the sausage, stirring and crumbling with a fork, until cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

In the same pan, melt the 1 Tbs. butter and add the onion, carrot, celery and pear. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the sausage. Add the chestnuts, parsley, sage, melted butter, stock, salt and pepper and stir to mix. Add the bread and stir to mix well.

Transfer the dressing to the prepared baking dish and bake until the top is golden and crisp, about 1 hour. Serves 10 to 12.

Note: If desired, you can pack the dressing loosely in the body and neck cavities of the turkey. Secure the neck flap with kitchen string or pin it to the back with toothpicks or trussing pins. Tying the legs together will help hold the stuffing in the body cavity. For turkeys weighing 16 lb. or less, add 30 minutes to the total roasting time. For turkeys weighing more than 16 lb., add 1 hour to the total roasting time.

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