This turkey stuffing (dressing) is best cooked in a dish of its own, allowing the top layer to brown to an appealing crisp. If you want to use it as a stuffing in your turkey, omit the step of cooking the fruit in the meat mixture. The fruit will cook in the bird as it roasts.
- 1 lb. fresh chestnuts boiled/roasted, peeled and cut in half
- 2 lbs. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
- 4 thick slices of bacon or pancetta, finely diced
- 2 small onions, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely diced
- 1 C. prunes, pitted, cut in half
- 2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
- 2 pears, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
- 6 C. dry, good-quality Italian white or whole-wheat bread cut
- into 3/4 inch cubes, toasted in a 375° oven for
- about 15 min, until dry and lightly browned
- 10 sage leaves, finely chopped
- 1/4 C. unsalted butter
- 2 C. low-sodium chicken broth
- S & P
- Prepare the chestnuts by very carefully cutting an X on the hard bottom side of each nut. Place them in a pot of boiling water and cook about 10-15 minutes or just until tender. Remove from heat and using a slotted spoon, remove chestnuts from water 1 at a time to peel. Alternately, place the cut chestnuts on a baking sheet in a 400° oven and roast until tender and easy to peel, about 15-25 minutes. Peel outer shells and the thin brown underskin while still warm. Cut each chestnut in half, reserve.
- In a large deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the sausage meat and the pancetta; cook over moderately high heat, breaking up the sausage meat until the meat loses its pink color and just begins to brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the onions, celery and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the apples, pears and prunes to the meat mixture. Cook partially covered for about 10 minutes or until the fresh fruits are almost tender. Stir in the chestnuts, sage and butter.
- Scrape the meat and fruit mixture into a large bowl. Add the bread cubes and toss. Slowly stir in the chicken broth to thoroughly moisten the bread mixture without soaking it (there shouldn’t be any excess broth in the bottom of the bowl).
- Spoon the dressing into a buttered, shallow baking dish, cover with foil, and bake 20 minutes at 375°F. Uncover, drizzle with a little olive oil/melted butter, if desired, and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes more.
To cook in turkey: Scrape the meat and uncooked fruit mixture into a bowl and add the bread cubes. Barely moisten the bread mixture and spoon into the turkey; cook turkey as preferred.