If you didn’t shoot a turkey and want something wild on your Thanksgiving dinner table, you can’t beat this venison sausage stuffing. My recipe is a traditional blend of sweet and savory with a mix of apples, onions and plenty of fresh sage.
The non-traditional spin the use of an edible cooking vessel—roasted butternut squash—instead of a pyrex dish. The squash will need to bake until the flesh is soft enough to scoop out to create a cavity large enough to stuff. Be sure to save that pulp for future cooking uses such as gnocchi, soup, or blending into a sweet oatmeal.
3 large butternut squash
4 cups seasoned bread cubes, dried (pre-made or homemade)
1 lb. venison hot breakfast sausage
1/4 cup butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1/4 cup apple brandy or cider
1 small apple, finely chopped
1 tsp kosher salt, plus extra
1 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
1 tbsp. poultry seasoning
1 cup poultry stock
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
Oil for cooking
- Preheat your oven to 350. Use a heavy duty knife and split each butternut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds (reserve and toast with oil, salt, and pepper separately). Brush the squash halves with oil and lay on a parchment-lined sheet tray, cut side down. Bake for 20 minutes, flip, and cook an additional 20-30 minutes or until soft. Scoop out some of the flesh, a large enough cavity to hold the stuffing. Season the cut squash with salt and pepper. Reserve the pulp for other uses.
- Place the seasoned bread cubes in a very large bowl.
- In a large sauté pan over high heat, add a drizzle of cooking oil to coat the pan. Once hot, brown the sausage then add to the bowl with bread. Drain any excess fat from the pan.
- Reduce the heat to medium-high and add butter. Once the butter has melted, add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Add the chopped celery and apple. Cook for an additional five minutes until soft and starting to brown. Deglaze with apple brandy. Allow the alcohol to burn off and scrape the fond at the bottom of the pan. Season with salt, fresh sage, and poultry seasoning. Pour this mixture into the bowl with the bread and sausage.
- Whisk the eggs and stock together and pour the liquids in the bowl. Use a spatula to gently fold it in and mix well until combined. Add more stock if necessary to soak into the bread.
- Spoon the sausage stuffing into the butternut squash halves. At this point you can store the unbaked stuffed squash in your fridge a day in advance until ready to cook. When ready to serve, bake for 20-30 minutes or until the bread starts to brown on top.