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A Favorite to be Thankful For

Perhaps it’s my instictive love of carbohydrates or maybe my obsession with hapharzardly throwing LOTS of ingredients into a recipe. Either way, one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving dinner has always been the dressing.

There are so many versions and a multitude of ways to make it delicious. Mine is different nearly everytime. But I wanted to share my base recipe and all the “add-ins” I think make it so yummy!

For the last few years, I’ve worked from a Williams-Sonoma recipe then added in  other ingredients that fit my taste at the time. Don’t fuss about too much or overthink it. Just put in what sounds good to you, see that it has a good ratio of bread to ingredients, and is plenty moist before you pop it in the oven.  

The recipe for Sausage, Chestnut & Mushroom Dressing is at bottom. Here are the other must-haves that go into my version and a few small changes you can make:

  1. Apples – cut Pink Lady or Golden Delicious into chunks
  2. Dried mushrooms – go for a quality wild mushroom blend (Williams Sonoma has a nice one) or dried porcinis. The water used to reconstitute them can be added to your broth for more flavor.
  3. Celery – chopped it up and toss it in for additional flavor and texture. I always load up on the celery and the onions
  4. Herb infused stock – add some chopped onion, celery, sage, thyme or other herbs to your chicken broth and warm it up as you’re chopping and mixing the other ingredients. Strain before using.
  5. Various bread textures – I always use at least two different kinds of breads, usually a box of La Brea focaccia stuffing from WS and crumbled cornbread I baked from a box. Pick whatever kinds of bread you like – pumperknickel, a wheat loaf or the basic stuffing mix off the shelf.
  6. Dried fruit – sometimes I use cranberries or raisins, but let your imagination be the guide.
  7. Extra moisture – I always add about 1/2 cup of Half and Half and 1-2 eggs

Use a few of these or put them all in. Just be sure to add more bread and basics (like onions and herbs) if you do it all!

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish? Do you stick with the tried and true recipe or make it your own? Comment below and share with rest of us!

Sausage, Chestnut and Mushroom Dressing


  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 lb. mild Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 7 oz. cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp. minced fresh sage
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1 cup roasted and peeled chestnuts, halved
  • 1 package (1 lb.) La Brea Bakery focaccia stuffing
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 to 4 cups chicken stock, warmed


Preheat an oven to 375°F. Grease a 3-quart baking dish with 1 Tbs. of the butter.

In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, cook and crumble the sausage until lightly browned and cooked through, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

In the same pan over medium heat, melt the remaining 3 Tbs. butter. Add the onions and fennel and sauté until soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic, mushrooms, thyme, sage, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown, about 12 minutes. Stir in the sherry. Let cool to room temperature.

In a very large bowl, combine the sausage, vegetable mixture, chestnuts, stuffing and parsley. Stir in the stock 1/2 cup at a time, making sure it is completely absorbed into the croutons. Taste a crouton; it should be moist throughout but not crunchy or mushy. You may not need all of the stock. Transfer the stuffing to the prepared baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is golden brown and crisp.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love a dressing that combines cornbread and bread croutons. Your recipe sounds great.

    November 23, 2011
  2. ann #

    Dressing/stuffing is all in the tradition….try it with pork sausage, pecans, yellow raisins, and a hint of crushed red pepper for some zip. The gravy is key! Yours sounds delish.

    November 27, 2011

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