Stuffing Showdown: Hot Italian Sausage Stuffing With Thyme

From now 'til Thanksgiving, we'll be sharing various stuffing recipes -- all tested and taste-tested first-hand by Chow Bella contributors. On Thanksgiving Day, our "celebrity judge," New Times food critic Michele Laudig, will weigh in with her favorite of the lot.

Yesterday we checked out Nicki Escudero's vegan "sausage" stuffing. Today's recipe is anything but vegan.

Last year we had the holiday blues. We neglected to book our ticket in time to visit the fam and faced getting through Turkey Day all on our lonesome. Still, we made the best of it by teaming up with a friend for a fantastic meal. He provided chicken fajitas (don't scoff, it was great) and we showed up with this hot, Italian sausage stuffing.

There wasn't much left over for Black Friday.

This recipe is a kicked up version of Tyler Florence's stuffing recipe. We dropped the chestnuts and sage for a bit more sausage and a fistful of thyme. We also snuck some garlic in there. Can you blame us?

- 5 cups sour dough bread, cubed to your preferred size
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 2 medium onoins, roughly chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
- 6 cloves of garlic
- fresh thyme
- 1.5 pounds of loose Italian sausage
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup chicken stock
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 large egg
- salt and pepper

- Get your over to a smokin' hot 375 degrees and butter a baking dish.
- Puree the carrots, onions, celery and garlic until you have a nice pulpy mash of veggies.
- Meanwhile, get your sausage in a pan over medium-high heat until it starts to brown on the outside and all of the fat has rendered. The sausage has plenty of fat packed in, but a dash of olive oil to get the pan started couldn't hurt.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage from the pan and reserve it in a large mixing bowl.
- Cook the vegetables in the rendered sausage fat until any and all moisture has pretty much evaporated. Add the veggies into your large mixing bowl with the sausage.
- Add the sour dough bread cubes
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the cream, stock and egg. Pour this over the contents of your large mixing bowl.
- Add in enough thyme leaves to fill the palm of your hand. If you want more thyme, find a bigger hand. Now would also be a good time to add in the salt and pepper.
- Fold the contents together just until it appears fully combined. Beware over-mixing.
- Pour this into your buttered backing dish and stick it in your oven for about 30 minutes. You're looking for a golden brown crust with dark brown bits of sausage.
- Garnish with sprigs of thyme, get a big spoon and promise yourself you'll head to the gym after your food coma.