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It’s always hard to change a classic that has been around for years. Whether you call it “stuffing” in the North, “dressing” in the South or even “filling” in some pockets of Pennsylvania, one thing remains the same ― it has become a staple on every Thanksgiving table, with a little regional variation.
In the Midwest they use wild rice, in the South they use biscuits, in San Francisco they use sourdough and in the Pacific Northwest they incorporate seafood. In my kitchen this year, I decided to switch things up and use pretzel bread as the star ingredient.
When adapting a classic recipe, it is difficult to show restraint and not get too carried away by experimenting with new ingredients. I always try to keep things simple and replace one or two ingredients to make it my own. My take on stuffing still uses all those familiar flavors we’ve grown to love ― onion, garlic, celery, sausage, fresh herbs, chicken stock ― but with one minor change.
Swapping out white bread for pretzel bread adds another layer of texture and flavor to the dish. The pretzel bread toasts perfectly to give the stuffing a crunchy top layer, while still maintaining the chewiness underneath. It also gives it a beautiful tangy, fermented flavor from the yeast in the bread. To take things one step further, I like to add Dijon mustard to the stuffing because what goes better with pretzels than mustard? It helps tie together all the ingredients in a familiar way while also giving a little kick to the final product.
This recipe is a simple twist on an age-old recipe. It’s not reinventing the wheel, but it will certainly have your guests saying, “What did you do differently this year?”
Sausage and Mushroom Pretzel Bread Stuffing
1 pound pretzel bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (left out to dry overnight)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground Italian turkey sausage
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
4 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Non-stick cooking spray
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a large casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Add stale bread cubes to large mixing bowl.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat with olive oil. Add turkey sausage, breaking up with spoon, and cook until browned and no longer pink, about 7 to 10 minutes. Use slotted spoon to transfer to bowl with bread cubes.
3. Add mushrooms to sausage drippings and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Use slotted spoon to move to bowl with bread mixture.
4. Melt butter in the same skillet. Add onions, celery, garlic and thyme. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until onion is softened. Transfer to bowl with the bread mixture.
5. In a small bowl, beat together eggs and Dijon. Pour over bread mixture.
6. Add chicken stock, parsley, 2 teaspoons kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to bread mixture. Toss well to combine then transfer to prepared baking dish.
7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes longer, until stuffing is golden brown and crisp.