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Savory Sausage - Pecan Dressing

Contributed By: Kathleen , VA | See all of Kathleen 's recipes
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Active Time:  1 Hour
Total Time:  4 Hours 30 Minutes
  12 Servings
Classic savory bread stuffing with sausage and pecans - it's almost a meal in a dish!
1 LB package of bulk pork sausage (preferably sage);
2 medium white onions
5 lg. stalks of celery, with tops
1 lg. bag of herb-seasoned stuffing mix (CUBED is better)
1 to 1-1/2 cup of pecan pieces (optional; cut up roasted chestnuts also suitable);
2 tsp crushed dried sage (3 tbsp if sausage not sage)
1 tbsp. dried parsley;
2 tsp dried crushed thyme;
1/2 tsp garlic powder;
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper;
1/2 stick butter, melted (optional)
Giblet "stock"r
First, make giblet "stock": take the neck and giblets out of the turkey. Put them in a pan of about a quart or so of water with the ends of the celery stalks and a bit of the chopped onion (and I add a few pinches of salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning - not from the amounts listed above because they are to go in the main stuffing mix); Simmer on low/medium heat about 1/2 hour or so. Set aside,

Take a large pan (a tall one - like one to cook spaghetti) and gently brown the sausage over low/medium heat - you don't want it to get crispy edges, you just want to brown it slightly because it will bake about 4 hours in the bird. Drain most of the fat, leaving some (1/4 cup) for flavor (I know, it's fat, but hey - this is holiday eating!)

Coarsely chop up the onion and place in with the sausage, then the celery and add them to the sausage in the pot and let them heat through need to cook until softened because you want a little crispness left when you put the stuffing in the bird. Then, add the bags of seasoned bread cubes and the pecans to the sausage/onion/celery mix. Stir the mixture to blend well, adding the poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper.

Strain giblets & aromatics through a sieve into a large measuring cup or bowl that has a pour spout. You want to add the remaining giblet-water slowly and blend it into the stuffing until it is just sticky-wet, but not soaked, alternating some of the water with the melted butter....if you need more water than you had from simmering the giblets, it is okay to add some from the tap (or use canned chicken broth - lower salt version is best). Any leftover giblet-water can be saved to add to your gravy later - it's a bit healthier than the drippings (I used a little of both) and adds some flavor.

Stuff the bird by packing it in. I also stuff the bottom cavity and then use a small skewer to secure the skin over it. Instead of leaving the top cavity open with stuffing spilling out (and it will be hard an inch in due to all the time in the oven), I do something my grandmother and mom always taught me - take the heel or both heels - depending on the size of the opening - of a loaf of bread and wet them, then place over the opening with the crust side facing out. When you pull your turkey out, let it stand a few minutes, then gently pull off the heel(s), and all of the stuffing will be moist, not hard (the heels will be dark brown and hard instead.)

This may be baked in a large casserole dish for 1 hours at 350 degrees Fahrenheit; cover snugly with foil when baking separately~

Date Added: 10/27/2009
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