The great stuffing controversy. Cook it in the bird and you yield too little stuffing. Cook it separately then it’s bland and dry. In this stuffing recipe we work hard to achieve all the qualities of in-bird stuffing without stuffing the turkey. We add ingredients to make this both savory and sweet. Then I share with you a special technique to get that inside the bird moistness and create a stuffing that is bursting with turkey flavor.
To clearly demonstrate this technique, I removed the wings from the turkey we used for this year’s turkey video before we set about roasting the farm raised prize. It seemed like a great idea. Who eats the turkey wings anyway?
Well it turns out that wings are really useful during the cooking process. When you see the Roasted Turkey video you’ll know what I mean. Think training wheels or stabilizers. I still stand by using turkey wings but recommend that you buy them separately from your local farm or butcher. If you don’t have easy access to another set of wings, you can use chicken wings and thighs.
This is a fabulous stuffing recipe and once you have the prep complete, it’s straight forward. Also because we work hard to create additional moisture this works well to make ahead and then warm up as the turkey rests.
Makes 10-12 servings 45 minutes hands-on time 2 hours Total
Recipe Ingredient List
- 1 large loaf of hearty white sandwich bread (1 pound 8 ounces)
- 1 cup of crushed walnuts, roasted
- 2-3 lbs of turkey wings or backs. (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 pound breakfast sausage
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 2 leeks halved and sliced thin
- 3 stocks of celery finely chopped
- 1 large granny smith apple 1/4-inch dice
- 2 teaspoons table salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
- 4 whole eggs
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 2 cups of homemade turkey stock
Turkey Stuffing Steps
- Preheat oven to 250F. Cut bread in to 1/2 to 3/4 inch cubes. Place on two baking sheets. Cook for 1 hour. Place bread in a large bowl. While the bread dries in the oven chop and dice onion, leeks, celery, apple and herbs.
- Cut turkey wings through at the joints so you have separate parts. Poke them with a knife to allow juices to run out during cooking. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a 12-inch skillet on medium-high heat. When oil begins to shimmer add the wings and cook for 5 minutes. Flip wings over and cook for 5 more minutes. Set wings aside and cover with foil.
- This step can be done at the same time as #2. Turn oven up to 375F. Spread walnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. When finished set aside in a bowl.
- With the still hot 12-inch skillet on medium-high heat add the breakfast sausage. Breakup into small pieces and cook for 7 minutes until the sausage is nicely browned. Leave rendered fat in the pan. Set sausage aside on a paper towel lined plate.
- Turn heat down to medium and place 3 tablespoons unsalted butter into the same 12-inch skillet. When the butter is melted add onion, leeks, celery and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook until softened about 8 minutes. Stir occasionally and loosen up any brown bits from the sausage. Do not let onions or leek brown.
- Add 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme, 2 tablespoons minced fresh sage and 1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper. Cook for 30 seconds longer. Add 1 cup of the homemade turkey stock (or chicken broth) and deglaze the pan with a spoon. Add the mixture to the bowl with the bread cubes.
- Whisk 4 eggs, 1/2 cup of half and half, 1 cup turkey stock (or chicken broth, see note), 1 teaspoon salt together in a bowl. For extra flavor add any of the juices from the turkey wings. Add this mixture, sausage, walnuts, and apples to large bowl with the bread mixture. Combine thoroughly with a large spoon.
- Butter a 9 x 13 inch or similar size baking dish. Pour the bread mixture into it. Lay the turkey wings on top of the stuffing mixture. Cover with heavy duty foil. Place in the 375F oven in the center rack and cook for 1 hour.
Note: If you’re cooking this in advance, hold here and then perform the final step just before serving. You may need to add 5-10 additional minutes in the oven in this case.
- Remove foil and wings. Place in the oven uncovered for an additional 10 minutes. Let the stuffing rest for 10-15 minutes and then fluff with a fork.
Notes from the Guy
- If you don’t have turkey wings, you can substitute chicken wings and thighs.
- Dry the fresh bread in the oven. Using stale bread will cause stuffing to be mushy since stale bread isn’t actually dry.
- This recipe makes very moist stuffing. If you wish it to be a little dryer use only 1/2 cup turkey stock with eggs and half and half.
- With homemade turkey stock the stuffing will come out under seasoned. You should taste and add salt when you fluff the stuffing before serving.