Pork sausage and chestnuts make for a perfect stuffing for a Thanksgiving feast.
Chestnut StuffingJump to Recipe
There’s always a lot of anticipation about side dishes on Thanksgiving. In fact, unless the turkey is just perfectly prepared (a rare thing), I find that the sides really make the meal.
And for me, there’s nothing like a good plate of stuffing. It’s the perfect side in so many ways. Since I usually brine or deep fry my turkey, I never actually stuff the bird with the stuffing. Instead, I always bake it separately.
My friend worked out a recipe last year that I continue to use and still say is one of the best I’ve ever tried. This year though, I decided to add some roasted chestnuts to it.
I posted on chestnuts in ravioli form a few weeks ago and there are some more detailed photos on how to prepare them in that post. You can also buy them jarred. Here’s the thing about the chestnuts in this version of the stuffing though: they are subtle.
Like almost invisible.
There are so many competing flavors going on (which trust me is a good thing) that the chestnuts get a bit lost. They do add some nice texture to the dish, but if you want a really big chestnut flavor to shine, you might consider doubling the chestnuts in the below recipe and eliminating the sausage.
After much test-tasting I decided that the sausage is what masked the chestnut flavors.
- 13x9 Pan. Serves 6-8
- Prep Time:
- Total Time:
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Pork sausage and chestnuts make for a perfect stuffing for a Thanksgiving feast.
1) Cube bread up into relatively large pieces and toast it in a 300 degree oven until it’s super-crispy and dry for about 20-30 minutes. Give it a quick stir halfway through just to make sure it’s cooking/drying evenly.
2) Cut an X on all of chestnuts and roast them (you can do it at the same time you are toasting your bread) for about 20 minutes or until the shell peels back nicely on each chestnut.
3) When they are roasted, halve each nut and then handle each half basically like a clove of garlic. Gently smash it with the side of a knife, the chestnut will pop right out. Do that for each one.
4) Take the casings off sausage and cook over medium-high heat in a large skillet. If sausage is on the leaner side, you might need to add a tablespoon or two of oil just to help it out.
5) After it cooks for a few minutes and starts to brown, add diced onion to the pan.
6) When the sausage is completely cooked and the onion is translucent, add celery and cook for just a few more minutes.
7) Toss all of this stuff in a bowl with your roasted chestnuts. Add other aromatics (herbs) and flavor ingredients to the sausage mixture and then toss that all together with your bread mixture.
8) Stir it together well to make sure the bread soaks up as much moisture as possible from the sausage and onion.
9) Add stock and butter in 1/2 cup batches and stir well after each batch (approximately 2.5 Cups of stock). Add a big pinch of salt and pepper.
10) Pour stuffing mixture in a 9 x 13 pan.
11) Bake at 350 degrees with foil cover for 30 minutes and then uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
The chestnuts are definitely the hardest part of this recipe. As for the other stuff, cube your bread up into relatively large pieces and toast it in a 300 degree oven until it’s super-crispy and dry. You don’t want it burned, but it should be crunchy like a crouton.
This should take about 20-30 minutes. Give it a quick stir halfway through just to make sure it’s cooking/drying evenly.
Then you can prep the stuff for your sausage mixture. This includes your sausage and onions. While you are at it you can chop up the aromatics also.
For the chestnuts, cut an X on all of them and roast them (you can do it at the same time you are toasting your bread) for about 20 minutes or until the shell peels back nicely on each chestnut.
This is a picture pre-roast. For more details on the chestnuts, check out the ravioli recipe.
When they are roasted, I halve each nut and then handle each half basically like a clove of garlic. Gently smash it with the side of a knife, the chestnut will pop right out. Do that for each one and you’ll have a big bowl of wonderful.
Cooking the sausage
Take the casings off your sausage and get it started cooking over medium-high heat in a large skillet. If your sausage is on the leaner side, you might need to add a tablespoon or two of oil just to help it out.
After it cooks for a few minutes and starts to brown, add your diced onion to the pan.
When the sausage is completely cooked and the onion is translucent, add your celery to the party and cook for just a few more minutes.
Toss all of this stuff in a bowl with your roasted chestnuts!
Bringing it all together
Add your other aromatics (herbs) and flavor ingredients to the sausage mixture and then toss that all together with your bread mixture.
Stir it together well to make sure the bread soaks up as much moisture as possible from the sausage and onion.
Then add your stock and butter to the party.
Add your stock in 1/2 cup batches and stir well after each batch. You want each bread cube to be well soaked, but there shouldn’t be any liquid left at the bottom of the pan. I probably used about 2.5 Cups of stock for my version and then mix in the melted butter last.
Also, add a big pinch of salt and pepper to the party. There’s no harm in giving this a taste at this point although it will be kind of room temperature. You are basically just tasting for salt and pepper levels.
Just remember, if it’s good now, it’ll be great later.
Baking the stuffing
Pour your stuffing mixture in a 9X13 pan. You can really pack it in.
Bake this at 350 degrees for a total of an hour. Bake it covered with foil for 30 minutes and then uncovered for 30 minutes.
And the trick to baking it is to make sure you give it a good stir every 15 minutes. This will prevent the bottom from getting too soggy and make sure everything cooks really evenly. I forgot to give mine a stir on one version that I made (I’ve made this twice in the past two weeks) and it was a noticeable difference.
Also, you may need to bake it for longer than an hour. Adding 15 minutes isn’t the end of the world. The end product should be moist, but not soggy and have some browned chunks throughout.
The above picture was actually of the version that I forgot to stir throughout the baking and you can see how some parts are super-crispy and some are a bit more soggy. But guess what, it was still delicious! It’s the best stuffing I’ve ever had, this just wasn’t the best version of the best stuffing I’ve ever had. Ya follow me?
So, in review:
– If you are going to be making a stuffing outside of the bird, this is one of the best I’ve ever had in my life (I’ve never actually stuffed it in the bird although I’m sure you could).
– If you want a real chestnut flavor, I’d axe the sausage and increase the chestnuts in the above recipe.
– If you don’t care about chestnuts, just leave them out. The stuffing is great without them. (Sorry chestnuts, but it’s true.)
– Stir the stuffing while baking to ensure amazingness.
About MacheesmoRead More
Hello! My name is Nick Evans and I write and manage Macheesmo. I started Macheesmo 11 years ago when I was just learning my way around the kitchen. I love to cook and love everything food-related, but I have no formal training. These days I focus on fast, accessible recipes with the occasional “reach” recipe!
I’ve posted almost 2,000 recipes on Macheesmo. For each one, I do my best to give full explanations of what I did and tips on what I’d do differently next time. I’ll bring up the tricky parts and the easy parts.
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6 Responses to “Chestnut Stuffing” Leave a comment
This is freakin' gorgeous. I might make this for Christmas dinner.
This sounds like a FANTASTICK recipe, and I would LOVE to make it! My past experience, however, has shown that the chestnuts available in most groceries, Italian chestnuts or otherwise, have a lot of waste from “worms”. Any suggestions for a source for “wormless” chestnuts, and has anyone else had the same experience?
@Larry The advice I’ve always read on picking chestnuts is to pick ones that are heavy for their size and avoid any that have small pinhead sized holes in them which is a sign of worms.
I bought mine at Whole Foods and they were just fine. If you are worried about it though, the recipe is just fine without the chestnuts also.
@Nick Thanks for the info. I’ll check “Whole Foods”, or the shelled ones in jars. I probably have 20-30 recipes for dressing, but would like to add chestnuts this year…just because, LOL! I will probably leave out the sausage…or add half of the amount, but I just keep thinking back to the song…”Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, Yuletide carols being sung by the fire, and kids dressed up like Eskimos…” :) Oh well, enough nostalgia…we dress up like Eskimos when it gets below 60 here in Florida, if ya know what I mean:)! In the meantime, what do you want to bet that this song goes through everyone’s head the rest of the day??? Don’t be too mad at me. The holidays are coming up, after all. :-)
Thanks for letting me use your photo. ;)A friend emailed me a stuffing pic since I hadn’t made mine. Didn’t know where it was from! OOPS. I’ll credit you though! :)
Made this for Thanksgiving, left out the cranberries, added in a few smoked oysters. Delicious.