For me the second star of the show, if you don't include dessert, is the stuffing/dressing. I grew up calling it stuffing so that's what I'm going to call it. If you grew up in a region that calls it dressing then each time you come to the word stuffing, read dressing. I only make stuffing at Thanksgiving, so I want it to be memorable and delicious. Here's my recipe for Thanksgiving Stuffing.
Potato Bread Bourbon Sausage Stuffing
16 cups Potato Bread cubes (the past few years at a local grocer I have found potato bread stuffing cubes made for me, if not cut your bread into 1/2 inch squares and toast in a 300 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, day old bread works best)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Sausages of your choice (I use a sweet Portuguese sausage called Longaniza)
1 chopped Onion
Fresh Sage Leaves
1/2 Cup Chicken Stock
1/2 Cup Bourbon
Salt & Pepper
1.) Heat oven to 350 degrees
2.) Remove the casings from the sausage. Heat 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage meat. Cook, breaking the meat up into small pieces until browned and cooked through. Drain on a plate lined with paper towel.
3.) Remove any excess oil from pan.
4.) Heat remaining tablespoon of Olive Oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add chopped onions, season with salt and pepper and sage. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes. VERY CAREFULLY add the 1/2 cup bourbon, simmer for 2 minutes. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
5.) In a very large bowl, mix together the potato bread, sausage and onion. Add the eggs and 1/4 cup of chicken broth. It's easiest to do this with your hands. If the mixture seems dry add additional chicken broth.
6.) Coat a 2-quart oven proof baking dish with butter or cooking spray. Put stuffing mixture into pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour until the top is brown and crunchy.
Now, I realize that this looks like a pretty simple recipe without a lot of ingredients. That's because it is. I don't like too much stuff mucking up the flavors of the sausage and bourbon. If you wanted to add pecans or cranberries you certainly could. You might also notice that not once did I mention placing this inside the turkey. Unless you stuffing reaches a temperature of 165 degrees. You also have to be careful not to put things that have been cooked into the turkey while they are still warm or bacteria will be thrilled to grow and multiply. Stuffing a turkey comes with risks. Food safety is important to me, especially when working with poultry. I don't want to send my guests home with food borne illness, they'd be thanking me for days I am sure. So, to eliminate extra possibilities of that happening, I do not stuff my turkey. There are grumbles from the family each Thanksgiving because I don't do it, but I will listen to those grumbles and know that my family is safe.