To stuff or not to stuff? It's one of the perennial questions of the holiday season. Here's my take on the subject: I don't recommend stuffing whole birds, be they ducks, geese, chickens, or turkeys. A stuffed bird requires a longer cooking time, because the heat must permeate a tightly packed mound of uncooked ingredients in the cavity. The result is soggy dressing that is, in my opinion, generally inferior to dressing that has been cooked outside the bird. I sometimes put a few herb sprigs in the cavity or maybe a garlic clove or two to help add flavor to the gravy, but that's all you'll find inside my birds.
Duck Sausage Dressing
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
No matter what your main course is, this dish is a tasty way to include some waterfowl in your holiday feast. The duck sausage recipe also works well as a breakfast sausage patty, or you can load the ingredients into a casing and cook it like any traditional sausage. A meat grinder is a handy appliance for any wild game cook, but cutting semi-frozen duck breasts into small chunks and pulsing them in a food processor until they are pea-sized works fine too.
- 1 1/2 cups ground duck breast fillets
- 1/2 cup ground pork
- 1/4 cup minced red onion
- 1 medium jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Mix together all ingredients except oil. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until evenly browned.
- 1 pound duck sausage, lightly browned
- 1 1/2 cups chopped fennel bulb
- 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
- 6 cups cornbread croutons or dressing mix
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and then transfer to a lightly greased casserole dish and place in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until dressing is lightly browned and crispy on top.