Adding Some Italian To Your Thanksgiving Table

It’s that time of year again; time for planning, chopping, cooking, and baking for the big Thanksgiving holiday. I know we’re all busy and looking for short cuts, but take my advice as you’re going down that shopping list. Please walk very quickly past the boxes of terribly dry, overly salty, and nothing to write home about stuffing mixes that line the aisles. Instead head over to the dairy section and grab some good mozzarella and provolone cheese. Then stroll over to the meat department or better yet, stop by the local Italian market in your neighborhood and grab some good Italian sausage with fennel please. Head home to your kitchen, and before you know it, you’ll be impressing your family and friends as you add a little bit of Italian flair to one of the most important Thanksgiving side dishes.

Everyone loves a good stuffing around the holidays.  And trust me when I say there is nothing like this stuffing as it comes out of the oven all bubbly and oozing with the flavors of Italy. This recipe was handed down to me from my mother-in-law, Mary. It’s not complicated at all and will add some variety to your meal as opposed to the usual types of bread stuffing normally served.

Mama Mary’s Italian Stuffing

  • 8 to 10 links of good, mild Italian sausage.  (I prefer the sausage with fennel as it has so much flavor without adding heat.)
  • Two cups grated Provolone cheese.
  • ½  cup mozzarella cheese grated (this is optional but makes for a nice bubbly topping.)
  • 1 large loaf of good Italian bread torn or cubed.
  • 2 cups of unsalted chicken stock (unsalted is key, as the cheese and the sausage are very salty)
  • 8 hard boiled eggs cooked and chopped.
  • Pinch of black pepper.
  • 1 tsp of Italian seasoning mix.

Remove the sausage meat from the links.  Crumble into pieces and cook in a large greased or non-stick pan.  Remove once nicely browned and drain on paper towel.

Mix the remaining ingredients, except mozzarella.

Place in a covered, greased casserole dish and bake at 350 for about an hour or until the liquid is absorbed, but the stuffing still moist.

Remove casserole dish cover and sprinkle stuffing with the grated mozzarella. (This is one of the few times that I recommend the grated verses fresh mozzarella.)

Notes:  This recipe is to accompany a 17 to 18 pound turkey. That said, the more leftovers the better. So even if you’re making a smaller bird, you’ll be happy to have a nice portion of this stuffing to add to the leftovers. Add enough chicken broth to keep it moist but do not let the stuffing get soggy. The eggs are optional, but add great flavor and depth. Place the stuffing in a large covered casserole; a dish that is suitable for serving as well as baking. Cook covered, and then remove the cover when adding the cheese on the top. Use the broiler for a few minutes to get the cheese bubbly and a bit brown.

Photo: Bochkarev Photography/