This stuffing is moist inside and crispy on top. The mix of chestnuts, bread, and apples marries fall’s best flavors without being too heavy.
Game plan: The heat and time required to safely cook stuffing that’s packed into a good-size turkey usually results in a breast with the flavor of sawdust. The stuffing should be cooked to 160°F, the same internal temperature required for the turkey, so you’d think it would work perfectly. But when the bird is at 160°F and ready to serve, the stuffing (insulated against the oven heat by the bird) is still undercooked and needs at least another 90 minutes in the oven. Which is why preparing your stuffing separately, as done here, is ideal.
1/4 cupduck fat or unsalted butter (1/2 stick), plus more for coating the baking dish
6 slices pumpernickel or dark rye bread (about 1/2 loaf), crusts removed, medium dice
6 sliceswheat bread (about 1/2 loaf), crusts removed, medium dice
5 sweet Italian sausages (about 1 pound), casings removed
1 medium yellow onion, medium dice
1/4 cup torn fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley leaves
2 medium celery stalks, medium dice
1 teaspooncelery seed (optional)
2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored, medium dice
1 cup coarsely chopped steamed or roasted chestnuts
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with duck fat or butter. Place the diced bread in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Place a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the duck fat or butter and crumble in the sausage. Cook until the sausage is lightly browned, stirring to break it up.
Add the onion and sage and cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft and golden, about 5 minutes.
Add the thyme, parsley, celery, celery seed (if using), apples, and chestnuts and cook until the apples are golden, about 3 minutes.
Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and pour the mixture over the diced bread, tossing well to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon the stuffing into the prepared dish and bake for 30 minutes.