Almost Friday Recipe: Carmelized Onions, Mushroom, and Sausage Stuffing

Because of the holiday, I’m posting my recipe early this week. It’s actually too late, but I don’t let little things like reality worry me.

This is my thanksgiving turkey stuffing. The origins of this stuffing date back to my discovery of the “black turkey” recipe. I tried it one year, and the stuffing was really good, but the whole thing was just insanely overdone – everything about it was overcomplicated, and there were so many spices muddled up in the stuffing that I just didn’t believe that there was any way that you could taste all of them. So over the next few years, I experimented, and eventually came up with this recipe, which makes the best stuffing I’ve ever tasted. I actually prefer to cook this outside of the bird – it develops a nice crust baked on its own. But to give it that “roasted in the turkey flavor”, I usually take a basting bulb, and give it a few good squirts of turkey drippings while it’s cooking.


  • 3 loaves of bread, preferably a bit stale.
  • 3 lbs sweet yellow onions, sliced thin.
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced.
  • 2 lbs portabello mushrooms, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 lb miscellaneous mushrooms, sliced.
  • 1/2 head fennel, sliced thin.
  • 2 stalks celery, diced.
  • 3 carrots, diced.
  • 2 lbs sweet italian sausage. (I use turkey sausage, but real pork sausage would probably be even better.)
  • Salt and pepper.
  • 1 tsp each marjoram and thyme.
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard.
  • Olive oil.
  • 4 cups chicken stock.
  • 1/2 cup brandy.


  1. Heat about 4 tablespoons olive oil on medium high heat. Add all of the onions, and cook them until they’re well carmelized. This will probably take between a half hour and 45 minutes. If the onions start to stick to the bottom of the pan, add some water to get them to unstick.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium, add a bit more oil, then add the garlic, fennel, carrots, and celery,
    and cook until the vegetables are soft.
  3. Add the mushrooms, and let them cook through.
  4. Add the spices, and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the brandy and about 2 cups of the chicken stock, and stir. When it comes to a boil, turn off the heat.
  6. Throw the bread into a food processor, and grind it into coarse crumbs. Pour the crumbs over the cooked stuffing base. Press the crumbs down until some of the liquid from the base comes
    through the crumbs. Add enough stock to make the bread moist. Then let it sit for 15 minutes
    or so.
  7. Stir the bread crumbs into the stuffing base. Cover it, and set it aside to cool. It needs
    to be cooled to room temperature, which will take at least an hour.
  8. Get the sausage, and remove it from its casings. Fold the meat into the stuffing mixture until
    it’s well blended. Add more stock if you need to to keep everything moist.
  9. Take a large roasting pan, and oil it liberally with olive oil. Then put the stuffing into
    it, pressing it in so that it’s packed tightly. Brush to top lightly with olive oil.
  10. Bake in a 350 degree oven until the inside of the stuffing reaches 170 degrees. Baste
    with turkey drippings once or twice while it’s baking. Depending on the depth of your roasting
    pan, this will take between one and two hours.

8 thoughts on “Almost Friday Recipe: Carmelized Onions, Mushroom, and Sausage Stuffing

  1. Hilary

    3 loaves of bread, 3 lb each of onions and mushrooms, 2 lb sausages, and that’s just for starters. Is this a turkey or an ostrich you’re stuffing?
    I’ve heard about the obesity epidemic in the USA and now I’m beginning to understand.

  2. Nick

    Quick question: is the sausage really added to the stuffing mixture raw, or should it be cooked in some way first?
    The mix of flavors here looks just fantastic; I’ll probably make a half-batch of this of this for dinner this weekend. I won’t have any turkey drippings for it, but given the richness of the other ingredients, I doubt I’ll need them.

  3. Mark C. Chu-Carroll

    Yes, the sausage meat is added to the mixture raw. That’s why it needs to cook for so long, and why you need to check for the internal temperature to make sure it’s cooked through.

  4. Mark C. Chu-Carroll

    Stuffing is my favorite part of the thanksgiving meal, so I make a lot of it. I also usually do thanksgiving for a lot of people, and I like to have lots of leftovers. We generally eat stuffing for a whole week after thanksgiving.
    Plus – both onions and mushrooms are loaded with water. When you cook it this way, the onions start out almost filling a large stockpot, but by the time they’re cooked down and carmelized, they’re reduced to about 1/10th of their original volume. The whole mixture of cooked vegetables and mushrooms ends up taking up less volume than the onions when you start. So this *is* a huge amount of food, but since it manages to feed a dozenish people at thanksgiving, plus a family of four for a week afterwards, it’s really not so unreasonable.

  5. Xanthir, FCD

    Wow, that sounds amazing Mark. I’ll have to cut the recipe for my personal use, but this is definitely going in the recipe book for when I have my first thanksgiving away from home.

  6. Nick

    I’d like to report a complete success making a one-third batch of the stuffing. I made a few small changes from the canonical recipe (pork-based italian sausage rather than turkey based, cubed bread rather than food-processed, skipped the “cool to room temperature” wait), but it all worked extremely well. Next time, I’m going use some reconstituted morels in addition to the other mushrooms, and I’m going to increase the goy coefficent even more by sprinkling some parmagiano reggiano over the top of the pan before baking.
    Oh, and my wife and I ate about one-third of the one-third batch as a one-course meal last night, so the full recipe really is scaled for the Third Infantry Division, or a very large family who loves leftovers.
    Thanks for the recipe!

  7. bacopa

    Where’s the cornbread? At least two of those loaves should be replaced with cornbread. And where’s the sage? Except for the lack of cornbread and sage this dressing sounds delicous.

  8. Tim Rutka

    Hi Mark, we made this today. We had Thanksgiving on the 4th of July! It was awesome. We roughly halved the recipe, and used a combination of Ezekiel bread and corn bread for the base. It was AWESOME! Thanks!


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