Italian sausage pear pecan stuffing is a sweet-savory side, combined with fresh sage, thyme, garlic, and onions. A perfect dish to go with your turkey!
Turkey’s get the star treatment as they are prepared to be the centerpiece of each Thanksgiving meal. However, you can’t have a holiday meal without turkeys’ tasty sidekick, stuffing!
Sometimes stuffing is cooked directly inside the bird to soak up all of the delicious roasted juices while there is usually an extra casserole dish filled to the brim with more. Does your family have a traditional stuffing recipe? The best part about stuffing is that there are endless combos, and they are all so festive and flavorful.
Being that Jason’s mom’s side of the family is Italian (from Malta), she makes her stuffing with traditional flavors. Mama Joan’s recipe typically has Italian sausage, Stouffers bread crumbs, apples, onions, celery and cream of mushroom soup. It’s so delicious!
I wanted to have an Italian inspiration in this year’s stuffing, however, add some seasonal flavors and more crunch. I’m a big challah bread fan, and I like to make my own. It’s easier than you think! I used it for this Italian sausage pear pecan stuffing recipe. I can’t wait to see if mama approves!
I’ve found that the best bread for stuffing are the ones that can absorb liquid well and have a finer crumb, like french bread, sourdough, and challah. French bread doesn’t add much flavor, so the sweet egg bread adds a nice richness to the stuffing. I toasted small challah bread cubes in the oven to remove as much moisture as possible to give more crunch to the surface.
Bread dough contains water so that you have nice tender chew with each bite. Although for stuffing you want the opposite; removing the moisture from the bread allows flavors from the liquid (broth, cream, juices, etc.) to be readily absorbed as you combine your stuffing ingredients. You can always make the breadcrumbs in advance, so you have more oven space to cook on Thanksgiving Day, just store in an airtight container.
Since some of our family members don’t eat pork, I found a delicious fresh mild Italian chicken sausage to substitute, you couldn’t even tell a difference! Pears are one of my favorite fall fruits, so I added Bosc pears to the stuffing. Crunchy toasted pecans and fresh chopped sage and thyme brought all of the flavors of the holidays together in this stuffing recipe. Some turkey broth and a splash of cream infused more flavor into the dish, and it was ready to bake and crisp up in the oven.
Oh boy, I can’t wait for my guests to try this new recipe and I hope they enjoy the fresh and earthy seasonal ingredients! I decided to make a butterflied turkey this year for Thanksgiving, so this sausage pear pecan stuffing will be served piping hot alongside the turkey. Some other stellar side dishes at this year’s feast will be my sweet potato casserole topped with pecans and citrus green beans with almonds. Don’t forget some homemade pumpkin pie to satisfy your sweet tooth. I can’t wait, just a few more days away!
What is the proper cooking temperature for stuffing in a turkey?
If you are going to stuff the turkey this year, make sure the stuffing is cooked to 165°F before serving! This ensures that there are no raw juices from the turkey cavity transferred to the stuffing. You can remove the stuffing once the turkey is cooked, transfer to a casserole dish and continue to cook until it reaches 165°F if needed. The best way to ensure that the turkey meat and the stuffing are cooked to the proper temperature is with an instant-read thermometer . They are super affordable and helps you make sure your guests won’t be leaving with a bellyache. Check out this informative guide from the USDA on more stuffing food safety tips!
Sausage Pear Pecan Stuffing
- 6 cups challah bread, (1 loaf or 20 oz.) cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed, chicken or pork
- 2 pears, peeled, cored, diced into 1/2-inch cubes, Bosc or Anju
- 1 yellow onion, diced into 1/2-inch cubes, about 2/3 cup
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups turkey stock, (or chicken stock)
- 1 cup pecans, chopped
- 1 tablespoon thyme, chopped
- 1 tablespoon sage, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- Heat oven to 275°F. Distribute challah bread cubes in one layer over 2 baking sheets. Bake for 25-35 minutes (stirring after 15 minutes), or until lightly browned and crunchy. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add sausage, breaking apart with a spoon. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until browned. Reduce heat to medium.
- Stir in onions and garlic; cook for 5 minutes. Add pears and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to release brown bits. Mix in pecans, thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Turn off heat and stir in cream.
- Pour mixture into a bowl with challah bread, stir until well combined. Transfer to an 11 x 7 x 2-inch casserole dish, pressing down a bit with a spatula. Place dish on a large sheet pan. Cover dish with aluminum foil and transfer sheet pan to the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake another 5 minutes. Serve warm.