You can use any kind of firm, good bread in this recipe. I like Pepperidge Farm’s sandwich bread. You can even combine a few different kinds if you have some half loaves hanging around in the freezer. Leave the crusts on—it’s less work and gives the stuffing some texture. A tip to prevent soggy stuffing: Let the bread dry out before you cook with it. Either remove the bread from the bag and leave it out all night, or put it in a 325°F oven for a half hour. If you’re cooking for a crowd, make extra stuffing. You’ll be glad you did. This stuffing is versatile and can be used with the holiday recipes in this book or any season throughout the year—it’s great under chicken or fish.
9 tablespoons unsalted butter (plus more for the baking dish)
8 ounces sage pork sausage, removed from casings (a good-quality breakfast sausage will work)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch chunks
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed
1 large egg
½ cup half-and-half
1 loaf day-old Pepperidge Farm sandwich white bread with crust, cut into cubes (about 14 cups)
Freshly ground black pepper
PREHEAT THE OVEN to 375°F. Generously butter a shallow 3-quart baking dish. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat, pour off about 3 tablespoons into a small bowl, and set aside. Add the sausage to the skillet and cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is slightly wilted, about 6 minutes. Add the apples, pecans, thyme, and sage and stir to coat everything with the butter. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the apples are just tender, about 8 minutes. Scrape into a large bowl. In a small bowl, beat the egg with the half-and-half. Add the bread to the bowl with the sausage mixture and pour the egg mixture over it. Season with salt and pepper and toss well to moisten all of the bread, adding a little more broth if necessary. Spread in the prepared baking dish, drizzle with the remaining melted butter, and tent with foil (don’t let the foil touch the stuffing). Bake until heated through, about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the top is browned and crisp, about 30 minutes more. (Serves 8 or more).