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Sausage, Chestnut and Fennel Dressing

Also known as finocchio, fennel originated in the Mediterranean, where the aromatic bulb vegetable has long been prized for its crisp texture and delicate anise flavor. When selecting fennel, look for smooth, tightly layered bulbs. Prepare the fennel by removing the stems and feathery leaves, then cutting the bulb lengthwise. Gently separate the layers and rinse them well.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box (16 oz.) focaccia stuffing
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 4 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 cups prepared French chestnuts, roughly
      chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/4 lb. mild Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 6 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 to 3 1/4 cups chicken stock, warmed, plus
      more as needed

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 375°F. Butter a 3 1/2- to 4-quart casserole dish.

Put the focaccia stuffing in a large bowl. Set aside.

In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onions, celery and fennel and sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring to scrape up the browned bits, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the chestnuts and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onion mixture to the bowl with the focaccia stuffing.

Return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring and crumbling with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the bowl with the focaccia stuffing. Add the parsley to the bowl and stir to combine. Stir in 3 cups of the stock. The dressing should be moist but not soggy. Add more stock if needed and season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the dressing to the prepared casserole dish, cover with a piece of buttered aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is golden and crispy, 15 to 20 minutes more. Serves 10 to 12.
Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.