Thanksgiving is hands-down my most anticipated meal of the year. My Roasted Chesnut Apple & Sausage Stuffing is hands down, my favorite part of the meal and I purposely make more than I’ll need. It freezes beautifully and this year I remembered a kitchen hack from Rachael Ray from early in her 30 Minute Meals days – Stuffin Muffins.
Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray, pack the cups with unbaked stuffing and freeze for three hours. Take them out of the muffin tin and place in a single layer into a large freezer Ziploc bag. When you need a single-serving and savory side dish with chicken, turkey or pork simply pop out one or more and bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes until they’re crunchy on top.
I know, I know. It’s stuffing if it goes inside the turkey and dressing if not. Whatever you call it, mine is seriously without equal. Here you see the ingredients of what goes into it. It’s just Spence and I on Thanksgiving and what looks like overkill on the quantity that I make, I call smart. At least half of what I make I freeze – unbaked in air-tight freezer bags and some in large size muffin tins (once frozen popping them into freezer bags as well). I make rotisserie and baked chicken throughout the year and this makes the best side dish, lovely to have on hand – simply thaw and bake!
This recipe is flexible. I’m going to list the ingredients and you can make as much or as little as you need:
Cubed leftover bread (I always have a lot in the freezer) I use a mixture some artisan, bakery & grocery store “regular” bread – even cubing up leftover cornbread if I have it on hand. Place all cubed bread on a sheet pan in the oven overnight with the oven light on to let it dry out. (turn oven on lowest setting for 30-60 minutes the day of assembly if it’s still too soft)
Additionally I use both the Pepperidge Farm seasoned Classic Stuffing & Country Style cubed stuffing
1 lb cooked sage breakfast sausage, use your spatula to crumble it while it’s browning, drain off any grease and blot with a paper towel
Apples – I generally use two kinds and don’t peel them, just chop into bite size chunks
Lightly saute chopped onion and celery (about 6-8 minutes), in several tablespoons of butter, add some poultry seasoning during the saute. I use equal quantities of onion and celery.
Chestnuts – I roast my own (check my blog for how-to roast chestnuts, link is below)if you want substitute toasted pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts. (But the chestnuts are what make this special in my humble opinion)
Fresh herbs – flat leaf parsley, thyme, rosemary – adds both a pop of color but also lots of flavor, chop them. I use a mezzaluna (pictured above).
Lots of chicken stock – have more on hand than you think you’ll need, trust me on this.
I assemble this using two very large mixing bowls and put half of the ingredients (except chicken stock) into each, little by little – and adding chicken stock and poultry seasoning along the way, stirring and then building more ingredients, seasoning and stock (you get it) until the prep station is cleared.
I fill a large oval baker and refrigerate this overnight – really packing it in (and fill a second one to refrigerate and bake later with leftovers. Freeze the rest). I take the oval baker (or casserole dish) out of the fridge on Thanksgiving morning to take the chill off. It will have absorbed a lot of stock overnight so drizzle an ample amount over the top. Bake this at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes, uncovered, until it’s browning a bit and there’s some crunch happening on top. If you’re making this and have your oven set at another temp when this goes in it’s not a problem – just watch the top and feel for the crunch.
As promised, here’s the link on how-to roast chestnuts: