Mom’s Chestnut, Sausage, and Apple Stuffing

This is a recipe that is very near and dear to my heart. It is my favorite stuffing recipe ever. I’ve never had anything nearly as good as this particular stuffing. When I was living at home, I looked forward to Thanksgiving every year because I knew that my mom would make her infamous stuffing. I used to especially look forward to making “Thanksgiving sandwiches” when I was in high school, which generally consisted of turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, and, of course, my mom’s stuffing. These sandwiches were not completely without this stuffing, and I probably wouldn’t even bother making one if there were no stuffing leftovers. I believe that there were even times, coming home late on the weekends when I was 16 or 17, and helping myself to a spoonful or two of cold stuffing. It really was that good! Even after I moved out and was in college, I would beg my mother to make this stuffing whenever chestnuts were in season. I’ve been known to convince my mom to make this stuffing twice in the same week, as my birthday always falls within a week of Thanksgiving, and I was never able to get enough of this stuff. Even my friends from high school and college, upon tasting some of my mom’s stuffing, would rave about how delicious it was. I only started making it myself a year ago, because, as I’m sure you all know, there are just some things that are better when your mom makes them. Now that I live in New York, thousands of miles away from home, I do have to make it myself, and while it’s delicious, it’s just never going to be as good as when my mom used to make it for me.

Now, let me actually tell you about this phenomenal stuffing. It’s got everything that, in my opinion, a proper stuffing should have. It has freshly roasted chestnuts, which are add a lovely buttery, nutty flavor. It has chopped apples, which add a bright element to the stuffing, as well as sweet Italian sausage, which is rich, hearty, and absolutely delicious. The sausage pairs very well with the tart dried cranberries, as well as the aromatic rosemary and the sweet, licoricey tarragon. All of the flavors work together in such a way that one would be happy to eat this stuffing alone, as a meal, I promise you that. Even my husband, who generally hates fruit in savory dishes, and doesn’t even like stuffing that much, went back for seconds of this. You will be as addicted as I am to my mom’s stuffing after you make a batch of it, guaranteed. Whether you stuff your turkey with it or simply eat it as a side dish (I do both), your friends and family will be begging you for the recipe afterward. I know that this is the time where everyone starts to put the finishing touches on their Thanksgiving menus, so I hope that you will have the foresight to put this stuffing on your list. It will be, without a doubt, the most shining star of your Thanksgiving table.


Mom's Chestnut, Sausage, and Apple Stuffing
Your ingredients (sans the chestnuts because I was roasting them).

Mom's Chestnut, Sausage, and Apple Stuffing
Place your chestnuts on a lined baking sheet and preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

Mom's Chestnut, Sausage, and Apple Stuffing
Cut an X into each chestnut, or poke each one with a fork, so steam can come out of the chestnuts while they roast. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until tender.

Mom's Chestnut, Sausage, and Apple Stuffing
Allow to cool before peeling and chopping.

Mom's Chestnut, Sausage, and Apple Stuffing
Chop roughly and place in a large mixing bowl (where you will mix the rest of the stuffing).

Mom's Chestnut, Sausage, and Apple Stuffing
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage (removed from its casing) and break apart with a wooden spoon. Cook until there is no more pink in the sausage, about 8-10 minutes.

Mom's Chestnut, Sausage, and Apple Stuffing
Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon to a small bowl to cool, then add 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan over medium-high heat. Add your diced onion, cook for 8 minutes or so, until translucent.

Mom's Chestnut, Sausage, and Apple Stuffing
Mince your garlic, then add it to the onions and cook for a minute or two, until fragrant, then remove the onions and garlic from heat.

Mom's Chestnut, Sausage, and Apple Stuffing
Mince your tarragon and rosemary and add them to the bowl with the chestnuts.

Mom's Chestnut, Sausage, and Apple Stuffing
Roughly chop your apple and add it to the bowl with the chestnuts and herbs.

Mom's Chestnut, Sausage, and Apple Stuffing
Add in the cooled sausage, the cooled onions and garlic, dried cranberries, and the stuffing cubes. Stir to combine. Add in the Worcestershire sauce, chicken broth, salt, and pepper and stir to combine.

Mom's Chestnut, Sausage, and Apple Stuffing
Place the stuffing back in the pan that you cooked the sausage and onions in. Cook at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes, until golden.

Mom's Chestnut, Sausage, and Apple Stuffing

Mom's Chestnut, Sausage, and Apple Stuffing
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 25 chestnuts (I used fresh, but you can buy pre-roasted chestnuts at the grocery store)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 apple, diced
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons fresh tarragon, minced
  • 6-7 cups stuffing cubes (about 10 ounces; feel free to use homemade bread crumbs, if you have them)
  • 2-3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees F. Place the chestnuts on a lined baking sheet. Cut a ⅛-inch deep slit around the entire chestnut to allow steam to escape from them while they roast. Roast for 30 minutes or so, until tender. Allow to cool completely before peeling. After peeling, chop roughly and place in a large bowl. Reduce the heat in the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, casings removed, and break apart with a wooden spoon. Cook until there is no more pink in the sausage, about 8 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon to a separate surface to cool.
  3. Add a tablespoon of butter to the skillet, melt over medium-high heat, and add the diced onion. Saute until translucent, about 8 minutes or so. Add in the minced garlic and saute for another minute or two, until fragrant, then remove from heat.
  4. In the bowl with the chestnuts, add the diced apple, dried cranberries rosemary, minced tarragon, cooled sausage, and cooled onion and garlic mixture. Toss to combine. Add in the 6 cups of stuffing cubes, then 2 cups of chicken broth, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine, then add in more stuffing and/or chicken broth, depending on the consistency of stuffing that you prefer.
  5. Place the stuffing back in the skillet that you used to cook the sausage and onions. Pat down with your wooden spoon, then cook at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes, until golden. Serves 6 people as a side.

 

63 Responses

  1. Wei-Wei says:

    Mmm! I’ve never had stuffing before since I don’t celebrate thanksgiving, but I’ve seen enough recipes to make me want to try it!

  2. Ben says:

    I’m also doing a chestnut stuffing for TG, but it’s more of a bread pudding style stuffing. Your Mom’s version sounds great though!

  3. Tina from PA says:

    I’m with Kremer , I really don’t care for stuffing,but this sounds very tempting.I always make it because everyone else likes it but, it’s not on my plate. This recipe may have me jumping the fence! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Alexi says:

    This stuffing looks amazing but I’m not a huge chestnut fan. Could I substitute pecans or walnuts?

  5. Jessica says:

    This looks fabulous except for the sausage (I’m a Vegetarian). I’m going to use this with this tofurkey recipe, any suggestions or spices I should add to make it fit together perfectly? (Taste-wise)

    http://www.fourgreensteps.com/community/recipes/54/272

    • Sydney says:

      Jessica: I think that just substituting the sausage with tofurkey is a great idea. The tarragon really shines through in this dish, so no need to change any of the other herbs/spices!

  6. Kelsey says:

    Sydney, do you think this could be made a day ahead, and then put in a buffet warmer? My mom and I are trying to be organized this year and do lots of prep ahead of time.

  7. Benita says:

    Sydney, this is exactly the kind of recipe from your parents that I was asking you about earlier–and it looks great! Thanks for the tips on making it ahead and substituting pecans since my fanily will appreciate that. And happy early birthday!

    • Sydney says:

      Benita: You definitely inspired me! Just lightly toast some chopped pecans in the oven or in a dry skillet and use them in place of the chestnuts, make as it, and then just reheat it in the oven the next day! It’s quite simple and even better the following day!

  8. Jen says:

    I have a confession: I’ve never had stuffing. My mom makes it and I just always thought stuffing looked funky so I never tried it. I’ve been lying to people and saying I’ve tried it and didn’t like it. However, I will, I WILL, make this and try it. I will.

  9. I think you have just given me a recipe for Christmas. This sounds so good. I will need to grind the chestnuts up in the food processor so hubby doesn’t know they are there though. How deceitful am I? ;)

    • Sydney says:

      Rhyelysgranny: I’m glad I could help out! If you don’t want to grind them up, he can just pick them out! They are so tasty, though, and I bet he won’t even notice that they are there!

  10. Sara T says:

    I think I’ve always had a made up aversion towards chestnuts… maybe I’ll give em a chance. :)

  11. I love my mom’s stuffing with the same passion! I am willing to give this one a go though….looks and sounds like a wonderful stuffing, and so seasonal!

  12. Michelle says:

    Looks awesome. I love sausage in stuffing, and I can see why you are so enamored with your mom’s recipe. I’d be all over hitting the fridge for leftovers of this.

  13. anne says:

    I am defnitely going to make this for thanksgiving. I have 12 on my guess list. I think I will have to make two to make sure I have enough, plus I want leftovers!

  14. Lindsey says:

    I’ve never made stuffing before but I’m excited to try this for Thanksgiving! What are stuffing cubes? I’m assuming just cubed bread but I’m not sure. Do you recommend a particular type of bread to use?

    • Sydney says:

      Lindsey: My favorite brand is Mrs. Cubbison’s cubed stuffing (http://www.mrscubbisons.com/), just because that’s the kind my mom used to buy when I was a kid. Any regular supermarket will carry them. I just like using them instead of typical stuffing crumbs because they absorb the moisture of the chicken broth better and give the stuffing more of an interesting texture, rather than a “wet” texture, which I hate. You can also cut white or sourdough bread into cubes, toast them in the oven at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes or so, until golden, and they will work just as well, if not better – that is what I am planning to do on Thursday myself.

  15. Jade says:

    Any tips on cooking this in the bird instead? Can I make the day ahead but stuff uncooked in bird the morning of?

    • Sydney says:

      Jade: Instead of cooking it in the oven, just go ahead and stuff it into the bird (and you can cook the rest of the leftovers as is in a pan or dish). When I made this stuffing, it obviously wasn’t Thanksgiving yet, so I stuffed some of it inside chicken breasts and cooked it that way – it turned out very well!

  16. christine says:

    I am so excited, I have been searching for a stuffing recipe, and this one sounds perfect! I try to chop everything the night before to make thanksgiving morning prep a little less stressful. Do you think this will work with the chestnuts, or would you suggest roasting them the day of? I am going to have to bake mine in a baking dish because a skillet will take up too much room in my oven and I need the space for other side dishes. What size baking pan do you suggest? Also, how many apples does the recipe call for?

    thanks!

    • Sydney says:

      Christine: You can absolutely roast and chop the chestnuts the day before! Just store them in an airtight container, like a Ziploc bag. I think that a 9×13 pan would be fine! You could probably do a 9×9, too, it just won’t be as crisp overall, which is how I like mine, personally. Sorry about the apple thing – just 1 apple! :)

  17. christine says:

    Thanks so much Sydney, have a great holiday!

  18. millie says:

    this question might have been asked previously, but can you make this the day before? i plan on just making it in a pan, not stuffing the bird. doable?

    • Sydney says:

      Millie: Absolutely! You might just want to add 1/2 cup or so of chicken broth to it before you heat it back up the next day, to retain moisture before baking it again.

  19. Arietta says:

    Just made this and I can say that it’s wonderful :) I’m definitely replacing my boxed stuffing every year!

  20. Christine says:

    Hi Sydney,

    Just wanted to let you know the stuffing was a huge hit! I ended up making bread cubes from potato bread that I toasted b/c I couldn’t find plain bread cubes anywhere. I also added chopped celery that I had on hand. It was really wonderful! Thanks so much!

    • Sydney says:

      Christine: On Thanksgiving Day, I couldn’t find them either, so I used some sourdough bread that I cut into cubes. I’m glad that it was a hit! It’s my favorite thing ever. I hope it was a Happy Thanksgiving!

  21. Nathalie says:

    Nommmm. Am responsible for making 2-3 side dishes for Christmas dinner and decided to check your site for inspiration. This one is going on the list. Thanks, girl. <3 Nathalie (and Sophie)

  22. I used your stuffing for my Christmas turkey and it was delicious. Thank you x

  23. Richard says:

    I made this for thanksgiving with some fantastic sausage I bought at the farmer’s market, and it was hands down the best stuffing I’ve ever had. Everyone love it. There were no left overs… that NEVER happens.

  24. Dee says:

    this looks so good. my family always makes sausage and cornbread dressing but now I’m going to have to insist on using chestnuts!

  25. Phyll says:

    I ‘ve never made stuffing this way…do you this will be go w/cornbread b/c my family is so picky?

  26. Richard says:

    I made this last year, and as a stuffing connoisseur, I am convinced that this is the best stuffing recipe ever. It’s packed with flavor, it’s moist, medium density, slightly salty, slightly sweet, and oh-so-savory.

    Definitely making this again this year.

  27. Christine says:

    Hey Sydney,

    I made this last year for Thanksgiving and it was a HUGE hit (see my comments on 11/22 and 12/1)!

    My question for you this year is have you ever made the stuffing the day before and baked it off the day of?

    Cheers,
    Christine

  28. Jen says:

    Your recipes never disappoint! I tried making this stuffing earlier this week and baked it with a couple turkey thighs on top (I just couldn’t quite wait for Thanksgiving either, heh). It was so yummy! The only changes I made were substituting walnuts for the chestnuts (just because I had them on hand) and adding some celery, because I had that lying around too. I was a little skeptical of the tarragon (it seems SO licoricey when you smell it on it’s own) but it really worked great in this dish. Thanks for a killer stuffing recipe.

  29. Mmm!!! I can’t make this for Thanksgiving- but I sure will be making it for Christmas! Thanks Sydney!

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