Thanksgiving Part 1: New-School Stuffing

As soon as I hit driving age, I was put in charge of picking up the Thanksgiving turkey at Grandma’s house. Grandma always cooked the turkey, but at some point during my teenage years, Grandma stopped being able to lift or transport the cooked bird to my mom’s house where the dinner was taking place. And so each year, I so very reluctantly drove over to Grandma’s and loaded up the car with the turkey, which sat in a shallow roasting pan in about three to four inches of its fat that also needed to be transported in order to make the gravy. Why we couldn’t transport the fat in another container with, say… a lid, was my annual question. But Grandma’s response was simply: "Take it and drive carefully." Have you ever driven incredibly carefully with an open-air turkey and its liquefied fat so as to not turkey-grease up your mom’s car, yet still turkey-grease it up? (Pittsburgh is a hilly city that isn’t exactly open-air-turkey-transport ready.) I have. Many times.

Now that I’m all grown-up and married, and both Matt and I have jobs that don’t allow for enough time off to travel back to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving, I miss the whole rigmarole and drama of family gatherings. And now that I know everything that goes into roasting a turkey, I would gladly accept some help and relinquish the duties to someone else, and sure, I’d even pick it up and put it in the trunk of my car (Read: I’d beg Matt to pick it up and put it in the trunk of his car.) if that were part of the deal.

Because now, I also realize that the planning and making of a Thanksgiving Day meal with all of its components is a bon appétempt in and of itself. So, you can imagine how my ears perked up when I heard about Claire Robinson’s Sausage Brioche Dressing, which she makes with just five ingredients, which, by the way, is kind of her thing. Maybe you’ve heard of her show, 5 Ingredient Fix?

I actually had the opportunity to chat with Claire about this dressing. It came up naturally after having described my grandma and the annual turkey transport. I asked her if there was anything she wouldn’t compromise on when it came to her Thanksgiving Day dishes.

Her answer? Stuffing cooked sans the bird, which is to say, on its own, which is to say: Dressing. (Prior to this conversation, I had always thought of the word dressing as a regional variation on the word stuffing, like soda and pop, but now I am more apt to think of the difference as describing whether it was cooked in or outside of the bird, though the verdict still may be out on this one.) Claire explained that when the turkey reaches the desired temperature of 165, oftentimes, “The stuffing isn’t quite there yet.” Good point, right? Plus, with Robinson’s dressing, you can get the brioche all browned on top—another thing not possible with in-the-bird stuffing. Oh, and another positive thing about Robinson's version? 5 ingredients.

So, for all of you looking for an easier but still homemade and delicious dressing option, I bring you: Sausage Brioche Dressing. (For those of you looking for a crazy, two to three hour stuffing adventure? I’ve got something for you, too. Hang in there.)

our version:

(Robinson's version calls for brioche bread. I substituted challah. Same difference, right?)
When I was making it, I could hardly believe the lack of onion and garlic, but the end result was super flavorful. And with that eggy bread and the pork breakfast sausage, some bites were almost quiche-likethis comparison proven by the fact that Matt had it for breakfast the following two mornings.

Thanks for the recipe and for chatting with me, Claire!

Sausage Brioche Dressing via 5 Ingredient Fix

1 brioche loaf, cubed into 1-inch pieces
1 pound pork breakfast sausage
4 celery ribs, halved lengthwise and cross cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4 cups stock
1/4 cup chopped sage leaves
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Spread the brioche on a baking sheet and put it in the oven until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes. Set aside in a large bowl.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the sausage and break it into pieces with a spoon. Cook until browned, then transfer it to the bowl with the brioche. Add the celery to the sausage drippings and cook until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Put the sausage into the brioche bowl. Stir in the stock and sage and mix until the brioche absorbs most of the liquid. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Transfer the dressing to a 13 by 9-inch baking dish and cook, uncovered for 20 minutes. Cover with foil and bake until golden brown on top, another 20 to 25 minutes.
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Matthew said...

Yum. Breakfast stuffing!

Jessica said...

Been there with the turkey grease! Transporting the thanksgiving meal is never a good idea. I love the look of this "Dressing." Thanks!

Heather Taylor said...

this looks DELICIOUS. 5 ingredients but they are GOOD ingredients. i want it. thanks for sharing!

penelope said...

I'm kind of shocked! No garlic and onions? But I guess if you say it's good, I'll give it a try!

Mary Anne said...

Thank goodness, no garlic and onion for once. Sick of chopping those guys. This looks AWESOME.

Jessica said...

I like the sound of this new school stuffing! Thanks for posting BEFORE Thanksgiving. I think this will go perfectly with what I have planned!!!

Mark and Marsha said...

With New-School out of the bird "dressing", who needs the turkey? Thanks for the extra post this week.

Nuha Sofiyan said...

this just made my mouth water. Looks so yummy!

legeytimate said...

How did you get the chance to chat with Claire?? Do you know her personally or just because you are now an awesome food blogger? For Christmas last year I made her Clementine Cosmopolitans for my family and no one remembers Christmas because they were incredibly delicious. Try them! http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/claire-robinson/clementine-cosmos-recipe/index.html

amelia said...

legeytimate: the clementine cosmos sound brilliant. thank you for reminding me about a very important Thanksgiving element: alcohol!

As for Claire: not sure if it's because i'm an "awesome food blogger," but yes: bon appetempt has afforded me some cool opportunities--one of which was being able to ask Claire some questions about her t-giving menu!