Breaking Bread: Dressing Recipe for Thanksgiving

I absolutely love Thanksgiving. Favorite holiday of the year. In fact, my family does “Thanksgiving” three or four times a year. Yep. The whole spread. Invite friends and family over. I visited my brother in September, and we had 15 people eating bird, sides and pies. Thanksgiving’s a day to reflect, eat, watch football, eat, laugh, love, eat and give thanks to everyone and everything that makes life worth living. Thank you. All of you. Past, present and future.

Thanksgiving is also about tradition. Growing up, my mom always made my dad’s mom’s stuffing for us (stuffing, as in you stuff it in the bird to cook). Everyone raved. It was delicious. The water chestnuts are an awesome touch. But I’m one of those weird people who has texture issues with food. The stuffing was too soggy for me. I kept quiet. I didn’t want to rock the U.S.S. Thanksgiving. So I ate as little as possible without drawing attention to myself.

But if Thanksgiving is about tradition, they have to start somewhere, right? The first time I hosted Thanksgiving, I made a dressing (because it’s not stuffed into the bird) from a recipe I found online. To me it sounded perfect. I liked the idea that it was savory and baked in a pan. Baked = crunchy. I served it proudly. It was a hit.

Now at my family Thanksgiving dinners, my dressing is always on the table. Next to my mom’s dad’s mom’s stuffing. Proudly, everybody eats both. Except me. I double up on mine. And my family accepts my food quirks — that’s just two of the billion things I have to be thankful for every year.

I’ve included the recipe below. I tweak it a little each year, usually with the amount of cheese and olives and I try different flavors of sausage. I’ve always viewed recipes as Legos instructions — let your imagination run wild and add a few bricks here and a few less there and you get something completely new. Who knows, maybe this year, I’ll add water chestnuts — as a nod to my mom and Gramma Chris.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Sausage
  • ½ to 1 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • ½ to 1 cup green pepper chopped
  • ½ cup butter
  • 12 cups sage bread stuffing, cubed
  • 2.25 oz. can of black olives, sliced, drained
  • fresh basil to taste
  • sage to taste
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 3 to 4 cups chicken broth to desired moistness
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten

Directions

  1. Cook sausage. Drain. Set aside
  2. In same pan, melt butter
  3. Throw in veggies and garlic. Sauté until tender
  4. In a BIG bowl, toss in everything EXCEPT the broth and eggs. Combine
  5. Now add eggs and broth. Toss until everything is coated
  6. Put in buttered baking dish. Cover with foil. Bake at 325° for 1 hour
  7. Uncover, bake for additional 10 -15 minutes to desired crunchiness on top
  8. Enjoy

Got a favorite recipe? Please share it in the comments and let’s start a few more traditions.

– P.J. Butland