Confession: for most of my family Thanksgivings, we've mainly used commercial stuffing with a few extra things added to it (water chestnuts, sausage, etc.). And I further admit that I've even thought I liked stuffing. But after trying this homemade stuffing from a recipe given to me by my friend Rachel, I can never go back. I couldn't even wait for the Thanksgiving meal to try this because it looked so good. It is heavenly! I'm thrilled that this recipe makes a large batch so that we have leftovers for multiple days.
12 tablespoons butter
2 ½ cups finely chopped yellow onion
3 tart apples (Jonathans are good), cored and chunked, do not peel
1 pound lightly seasoned bulk breakfast sausage (sage is best)
3 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread (homemade is best)
3 cups coarsely crumbled whole wheat bread
3 cups coarsely crumbled white bread (French or homemade preferred)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup chopped Italian parsley
1 ½ cups shelled pecan halves
Melt half of the butter in a skillet. Add chopped onion and cook over medium heat, partially covered, until tender and lightly colored, about 25 minutes. Transfer onions and butter to a large mixing bowl.
Melt remaining butter in the same skillet. Add apple chunks and cook over high heat until lightly colored but not mushy. Transfer apples and butter to the mixing bowl.
Crumble the sausage into the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring until lightly browned. With a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to the mixing bowl and reserve the rendered fat.
Add the remaining ingredients to the ingredients in the mixing bowl and combine gently. Cool completely before stuffing the bird; refrigerate if not used promptly.
If you do not wish to stuff the bird, spoon the stuffing mixture into a casserole. Cover casserole and bake for about 45 minutes at 325 degrees. Baste occasionally with the drippings from the bird or with the reserved sausage fat, if necessary. Leave the stuffing uncovered for the last 15 minutes of the baking time.
Note: The breads should not be dried out as in many stuffing recipes.
Enough stuffing for a 20-pound turkey, to make 12 to 14 servings.