I have a major confession to make to y’all. I hope you’ll still love me afterwards. Okay here goes…. I hate stuffing. Yes, Thanksgiving stuffing. Or dressing. Or whatever you call it. I don’t like any of it. That’s kind of bad, right? But it’s true.
My dislike of stuffing is a texture thing, not a flavor thing. I think what turns me off is the soggy bread aspect. I’ve never liked it, despite giving it more than a fair shot over the years. And I’ve had it many different ways: with sausage, without sausage, with various kinds of bread, including cornbread, different types of veggies, you name it. And it’s always that softened bread thing that I just can’t do.
I think what makes this a confession at all is that stuffing is such a beloved dish and people are very proud of and passionate about their own family recipes. Most are shocked to hear that someone doesn’t like it. So people do get a little miffed when you decline the stuffing at Thanksgiving dinner. But what also gets annoying to a stuffing-hater is that you can’t simply and politely decline the stuffing and have that be that. Someone always makes a fuss. I mean, you could simply say that you dislike, for instance, spinach and people would accept it. But stuffing is different. Someone always pipes up and says “Try my stuffing! My stuffing is different. You’ll like my stuffing.” So then I try a little to keep the peace. And it’s never different. I never like it. It still has that softened bread thing going on.
Maybe that’s why I like hosting Thanksgiving. I don’t have to make stuffing! Lol. But, it has occurred to me over the years that yes, I am weird in my dislike of stuffing, and my guests may well expect it to make an appearance. What to do, what to do. That’s when I came up with this recipe.
Enter Stuffing Bruschetta. It has all the elements of a good stuffing with none of the soggy bread. I simply take the best parts of stuffing, like sausage, and mushrooms, and creaminess, and herbs, and top it on toasted bread slices. So the bread element is still there, but it’s not soggy. Win-win!
You stuffing-lovers may still be skeptical. I understand. But just give it a try. I’ve served it to stuffing-lovers in the past and they have all raved over it. My husband, who I would call a stuffing-liker, not lover, goes absolutely nuts over this dish. It’s one of his favorites, and he claims it’s much tastier than actual stuffing. So be open-minded, and see what you think.
1 tbs olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, bulk or casings removed
3 tbs unsalted butter, divided
1/2 lb. cremini mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Leaves from 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
2 tbs flour
1 cup chicken or turkey stock
1/2 cup half and half
1 loaf of Italian bread, sliced into toasts on the diagonal
Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle in the tablespoon of olive oil. Remove the sausage from its casings, if needed, and crumble into the hot pan. Break it up with a wooden spoon and cook until no longer pink. With a slotted spoon, remove to a paper towel lined plate.
Add 1 tbs butter to the sausage drippings. Add the mushrooms and cook until nicely browned. Next, add the celery, onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened. Stir in the thyme leaves.
Add the remaining two tablespoons of butter. When it melts, add the flour and stir constantly for one minute. Add the stock and keep stirring to remove any lumps.
Lower the heat to medium, then add the half and half. Return the sausage to the pan, and stir until thickened, 3-5 minutes. You want this to be really thick, with no trace of liquid. When done, season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep it on low heat and stir occasionally if not topping the toasts right away.
On a grill pan or on a baking sheet under the broiler, toast the bread slices. Spoon some of the stuffing mixture atop each toast and garnish with some thyme leaves. Minced parsley would also work if that suits you better. Serve immediately.
Note: I’ve tried this with a French baguette and it does NOT work. The baguette is too skinny, you need something wider to hold the stuffing properly.