food. family. life.

mammina loreta’s italian sausage, spinach & chestnut stuffing

The Thanksgiving holiday is fast approaching and I am giving thanks for many things this 2013 season. Take a moment to write down all the things you are most thankful for and share this with your family and friends.

I remind myself daily and have made a point of not waiting for this holiday to express my gratitude and thanks to those who love and support me in all my adventures (and faux pas.)

Life has taught me who I can count on in times of need and they are still the ones I reach out to the most and who I offer my own support any time of day or night.

I have surrounded myself with positive people and I have slowly removed all the nay-sayers from my life; something I learned from a wonderful acupuncturist years ago.

cucinadimammina_thanksgiving stuffing_1

{My famiglia and I at Casa Venditti wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving 2013 holiday. May your plates be full and your glasses never empty as you celebrate a new holiday season of family, food, drink and a life filled with adventure.}

My food share today is a favorite Thanksgiving offering Mammina Loreta has made for years and something I look forward to every season, her roasted Italian sausage, spinach & chestnut stuffing.

This recipe we created follows the approach of cooking the stuffing separate from the bird (either chicken or turkey) as we prefer the texture and flavor this way and have found it safer than cooking in the bird itself.

ripieno con salsiccia italiana, spinaci e castagna ala mammina loreta

INGREDIENTS

1 day-old loaf rustic ciabatta bread, sliced

1 day-old loaf pane rustica (country bread), sliced

1 1/2- 2 lbs. loose italian pork sausage with fennel seeds (casings removed)

3 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

3 large ribs of celery and celery leaves, trimmed and cut into chunks

1 medium sweet viadalia onion, peeled and chopped

1-1 1/4 cup of roasted & peeled chestnuts (roast your own a day in advance or buy roasted and peeled variety)

cucinadimammina-thanksgiving stuffing_8large bunch of fresh spinach (pre-sauteed in olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper and left to cool)

1 32 oz. container of unsalted vegetable of chicken stock

olive oil

glass of white wine

salt and pepper to taste

Place the slices of day-old bread on large baking sheets and toast under your oven broiler (turning to toast both sides until golden brown and very crispy. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

In a large skillet, drizzle some olive oil and, on medium heat, sauté the chopped onion for about a minute then add a good dose of white wine and let this sauté until the wine has evaporated and the onions are tender and sweet. Season with salt and pepper to taste; remove from skillet and set aside.

In this same skillet on medium-high heat, brown the loose sausage meat until brown and cooked through. Let the meat carmelize a bit with those browned edges; this adds tons of flavor to the final dish.

Take the previously sautéed spinach (remove garlic clove) and chop the leaves into bite-size pieces. Using your hands, break the toasted bread up into large chunks and place in a large deep bowl.

Add the sautéed onion and spinach (add the spinach liquid too) and mix gently to blend with a large wooden spoon or spatula.

Chop the chestnuts into quarters and add them to the bread mixture. Do the same with the cooked sausage meat once cooled and mix well, careful to not break up the bread pieces.

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Add the chopped raw carrots and celery and gently mix together. Season this mixture with some salt and pepper (do not over salt here as the sausage is already a bit salty.)

Begin to add the stock slowly to saturate the bread pieces, do not add too much stock as it will end up a big, soggy mess once cooked.

When the bread has absorbed the stock; add more if needed and put this finished mixture in a large greased oven roast pan with high sides.

Cover the pan loosely with tin foil and place into a preheated 400 degree fahrenheit oven on the middle rack.

Roast this mixture for about 20-25 minutes and then remove the foil and continue cooking until the top gets golden toasty and crisp on the edges.

Remove the pan from the oven and set aside to cool a bit; serve immediately.cucinadimammina_thanksgiving stuffing_6

Note: Mammina and I also love to add some variations to this stuffing depending on our mood that day.

We add roasted chopped mushrooms, chopped and sautéed sweet bell peppers (yellow, red and orange) and chopped fresh fennel for a wonderful anise, licorice flavor.

Buon Appetito e grazie tante!

Note: Photography provided by Annette L. Venditti

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