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~ Sweet Potato, Apple & Sausage Bundt-Pan Stuffing ~

IMG_5472Stuffing baked in a bundt pan makes for a picture-perfect presentation that brings a smile to everyone.  From a practical standpoint, it feeds a crowd (or a small gathering of stuffing lovers) and it's very user-friendly:  it easy to portion, slice and serve at the table or on the buffet line, and, slices are especially convenient on closed or open-faced turkey sandwiches.  Stuffing slices can be wrapped, stacked and frozen too -- for those times when one has to have a slice of stuffing.

Nicely-sliced stuffing is not new-to-me -- it's old-school brilliance.  My grandmother always baked her stuffing in two loaf pans because it was an efficient use of oven space.  As a savvy cook, she figured out that two, high, narrow loaf pans took up less oven space than a low, shallow casserole while yielding about the same amount.  Her stuffing loaves baked on either side of the roasting turkey with miscellaneous other casseroles strategically placed on the remaining upper rack.

I say, "stuffing", and you say, "dressing".  Who's right?

IMG_5460We both are.  The terms are used interchangeably.  The Food Lover's Companion defines both  as "a mixture used to stuff poultry, fish, meat and some vegetables."  I did not always know that.

Where I grew up in Eastern PA, if someone said, "please pass the dressing", they got the salad dressing.  When someone said she was "dressing the turkey", it meant she was preparing it for roasting (which could include removing its innards and plucking the feathers).  Stuffing per se, was the stuff she stuffed into the bird.  The stuff that didn't fit in the bird, meaning the extra stuffing she'd purposely made so she'd have enough to feed a crowd, got baked in a buttered casserole dish alongside the bird.  Neither turned into "dressing" when it went on the table.  Stuffing went into her oven, stuffing came out of her oven and stuffing went onto her table.  I spent the first fourteen years of life completely unaware stuffing had another name.  It happened by accident.

I was having an after-school dinner at my girlfriend Susie's house.  Susie's mom Jeanne was born and raised in the South and talked with one of those great Andy of Mayberry Southern drawls. Susie's mom served cast-iron-skillet fried chicken dinner that night, with cornbread dressing.  I was a pretty picky eater back then and wanted to know what I was eating before I put in on my plate (because according to my family's rules, once it was on my plate I was required to eat it). So I asked, "is this dressing the same thing as stuffing?"  In a lovely, ladylike, upbeat Southern drawl, I was told, "Oo honn-ey -- it's jus' the same --  we'all jus' call it dressin' down South."

My Southern-Style Sweet Potato, Apple & Sausage Stuffing:

IMG_53892  pounds sweet sausage, hot sausage may be substituted

4  ounces salted butter (1 stick)

1/2  teaspoon ground nutmeg

1  teaspoon poultry seasoning

2  packets from 1 box G. Washington's Golden Seasoning and Broth Mix

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

1  teaspoon coarse-grind black pepper

8-10  ounces diced yellow or sweet onion (1 1/2-2 cups)

8-10  ounces diced celery (1 1/2-2 cups)

1 1/2 pounds peeled and 1/2" diced sweet potatoes (about 6 cups)

12  ounces peeled and 1/2" diced tart apples (about 3 cups)

8  jumbo eggs

2  cups whole milk

2  1-pound loaves potato bread, cut into 1/2"-3/4" cubes

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing bundt pan

IMG_5392 IMG_5392 IMG_5392 IMG_5392~Step 1.  Using your fingertips, pull the sausage into little pieces, dropping them in a 14" chef's pan as you work.  Over medium-high heat, fry sausage bits, stirring frequently with a large slotted spoon, until just cooked through and beginning to turn brown, 6-8 minutes.  Turn heat off.  Using the slotted spoon, transfer cooked sausage to a paper-toweled-lined plate to drain and cool.

IMG_5401 IMG_5401 IMG_5401 IMG_5401~Step 2.  Over low heat, melt the butter into the sausage drippings remaining in the bottom of the pan.  Add and stir in the spices:  the nutmeg, poultry seasoning, G. Washington's packets, salt and pepper into the butter and sausage drippings.  Add the onion, celery and sweet potatoes.

IMG_5408 IMG_5408 IMG_5408 IMG_5408 IMG_5408 IMG_5408 IMG_5408~Step 3.  Adjust heat to medium-high and sauté, stirring frequently, until onion is soft and sweet potatoes are beginning to soften, 10-12 minutes.  Add and stir in the diced apples.  Continue to sauté, stirring frequently, until apples just begin to soften, 3-4 additional minutes.  Add and stir in the drained sausage bits and pieces.  Remove the pan from heat and set aside for mixture cool about 30-40 minutes.

IMG_5425 IMG_5425 IMG_5425 IMG_5425 IMG_5425 IMG_5425 IMG_5425~Step 4.  In two or three increments, add and fold all of the bread cubes into the still-warm vegetable-sausage mixture in pan. Using a fork, vigorously whisk the eggs.  Add all of the eggs to the pan and thoroughly fold them in, taking enough time to make sure all of the ingredients are enrobed in the eggs.  Add the milk. Fold, fold, and fold again, until bread has absorbed all of the milk, giving it about 10 full minutes.

IMG_5439 IMG_5439 IMG_5439 IMG_5457~Step 5.  Transfer stuffing mixture to a 12-cup bundt pan that has been sprayed with no-stick. The bundt pan will be filled to the top.*  Cover pan with aluminum foil.  Bake on center rack of preheated 325º oven for 1 hour.  Remove the foil and continue to bake for 45 more minutes. Remove from oven and rest 45-60 minutes.  Use a paring knife to loosen stuffing from the exterior and interior edges of the pan, place a plate on top and invert stuffing onto the plate.

*Note:  Stuffing contains no leaveners, so, worry not about filling the pan to the top -- filling the bundt pan to the brim actually makes it easier to unmold onto the plate after it bakes.

Slice & serve savory-sausage-stuffing perfection:

IMG_5480The Morning After?  Thanksgiving Stuffing Waffles:  

IMG_3385Sweet Potato, Apple & Sausage Bundt Pan Stuffing:  Recipe yields 18-20 servings.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; vegetable peeler; serrated bread knife; 14" chef's pan w/straight, deep sides; large slotted spoon; paper towels; 12-cup bundt pan; aluminum foil; wire cooling rack; paring knife

IMG_5358Cook's Note: Before baking stuffing in a bundt pan, there are a few things you need to know.  In my post ~ Nicely-Sliced:  Stuffing in a Bundt Pan Stuffing Ring ~ you'll find my tips on the adjustments that need to be made to bake any stuffing recipe in a bundt pan.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)


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