Sausage stuffing is a Thanksgiving classic, though the ingredients are something of a free-for-all after bread and sausage. Depending on the recipe, you might see: onion, celery, carrots, nuts, fresh fruit, dried fruit, and herbs. This is a simpler, more vegetable-forward take with broccoli rabe (one of sausage’s oldest friends). Blanching the broccoli rabe in saltwater removes some of its natural bitterness. More importantly, this creates a four-minute broccoli rabe broth, which becomes the liquid in our stuffing, instead of the usual chicken or vegetable broth. Any bread will work here—sourdough, challah, ciabatta, even focaccia. You can leave the crusts on or cut them off; I like the former, because it adds more flavor. I prefer using hot Italian sausage for its spunk, but if you aren’t a fan, feel free to swap in sweet Italian sausage instead. Similarly, the yellow onion can make way for red. But don’t skip the eggs—they add structure and fluffiness. This can be made in advance, refrigerated, and reheated; just add some more broth if needed. —Emma Laperruque
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Sausage & Broccoli Rabe Stuffing
8 to 12
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds
bread of your choice (see headnote), torn into 1 ½–inch pieces
broccoli rabe, rough chopped
hot Italian sausage links, casings removed
plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
Heat the oven to 250°F. Spread out the bread on a sheet pan and toast for about 30 minutes minutes, until dried out and crisp to the touch. When the bread is out of the oven, raise the oven temperature to 375°F.
While the bread is in the oven, add the water to a stockpot and set over high heat to come to a boil. When it reaches a boil, add 2 tablespoons salt, followed by the broccoli rabe. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, or until the stalks are tender but still with some bite. Cut the heat and use tongs or a spider to remove the broccoli rabe from the water (don’t drain the water! We’re about to use it) and transfer to the largest bowl you have.
Add 1 tablespoon butter to a large sauté pan and set on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and use a wooden spoon or spatula to break into pieces. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring infrequently, until browned and crisp. Add the onion and a pinch of salt, and stir. Cook for another 10 minutes or so, stirring more frequently and lowering the heat as needed, until the onion is soft. Add another 6 tablespoons butter and stir to melt. Dump this mixture into the bowl with the broccoli rabe and stir. Add the bread and stir again, more carefully this time.
Measure out 1 ½ cups broccoli rabe stock. Add the eggs and remaining 1 teaspoon salt to a small bowl and whisk with a fork until smooth. Add a small splash of the measured-out broccoli rabe broth and stir. Keep doing this until you’ve added all the broth (this tempers the eggs so they don’t scramble). Pour this mixture into the bowl with the stuffing ingredients and toss. Let sit for 10 or so minutes, to see if you need to add more stock; the bread should be fully saturated, but not so soaking that there’s a lot of liquid at the bottom of the bowl.
Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, then add the stuffing and spread out the top so it’s even.
Bake the stuffing for about 1 hour, or until the top is golden-brown and the center is cooked through (you can cut into the very center with a small knife and take a peek).
Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.