12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) sweet butter
2 1/2 cups finely chopped yellow onions
3 tart apples (I prefer Granny or Pippin), cored and chunked; do not peel
1 pound lightly seasoned bulk sausage.*
3 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread (preferably homemade)
3 cups coarsely crumbled whole-wheat bread
3 cups coarsely crumbled white bread (preferably French or homemade)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 1/2 cups shelled pecan halves
1. Melt half of the butter in a skillet. Add chopped onions and cook over medium heat, partially covered, until tender and lightly colored, about 25 minutes. Transfer onions and butter to a large mixing bowl.
2. Melt remaining butter in the same skillet. Add apple chunks and cook over high heat until lightly colored but not mushy. Transfer apples and butter to the mixing bowl.
3. Crumble the sausage into the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring, until lightly browned. With a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to the mixing bowl and reserve the rendered fat.
4. Add remaining ingredients to the ingredients in the mixing bowl and combine gently. Cool completely before stuffing the bird; refrigerate if not used promptly.
5. If you do not wish actually to stuff the bird, spoon it into a casserole. Cover casserole and set into a large pan. Pour hot water around the casserole to come halfway up the side. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes at 325°F., basting occasionally with cooking juices from the bird or with the reserved sausage fat or with a little orange juice, if necessary. When I have a guest that prefers really "wet" stuffing, I spoon some into a separate casserole and add orange juice until it's very wet.
Makes enough stuffing for a 20-pound turkey, to make 12 to 14 portions. I like to eat the stuffing cold the next day.
*The cookbook says that breakfast sausage with sage is best. I go to Bristol Farms market and buy bulk sausage, then add fresh snipped sage the day before I use it.