A Creative Twist on Fall Stuffing: Pretzels and Pork Sausage

Whether stuffed in turkey or cooked by itself as a casserole dish, stuffing is a flavor-packed comfort food. Made with leftover bread, cornbread, or rice, stuffing is an extremely flexible dish suitable for all taste buds. Because stuffing is so adaptable, it’s essentially a blank canvas for flavors and ingredients. Want something spicy? Add some chili peppers or hot sauce. Looking for a balance of sweet and savory? Mix chopped apples with pork sausage for a classic flavor pairing.

Funkenhausen’s Chef Mark Steuer

For a unique stuffing recipe, The Manual has enlisted the services of Chef Mark Steuer of Funkenhausen in Chicago. Steuer’s menu is influenced by a combination of his German heritage and Charleston, South Carolina upbringing. This holiday season, Steuer has created a distinctive recipe — pretzel and sausage stuffing.

The secret ingredient to this tasty casserole is day-old soft pretzels. While excellent baked in a skillet or roasting pan, this recipe is truly delicious with poultry or pork. For whole birds, Steuer recommends adding the stuffing mixture into the cavity before roasting.

Pretzel and Sausage Stuffing Recipe

Pretzel and Sausage Stuffing from Chef Mark Steuer of Funkenhausen in Chicago.
Pretzel and Sausage Stuffing by Chef Mark Steuer.

(By Chef Mark Steuer of Funkenhausen in Chicago.)

Be sure to use soft pretzels (not the small and crunchy snack pretzels) for this recipe. Also, it’s critical that the pretzels in the stuffing mix are not “fresh.” To achieve this, allow your pretzels to get stale (you can leave them in a container or bag at room temperature overnight) before mixing them with the other ingredients. If time is an issue, you can accelerate the process by baking the pretzels at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes. This process is essential. Fresh bread or pretzels will make the stuffing soupy and soggy. Day-old pretzels will absorb the aromatics and cooking liquid, ensuring a superior texture.

Ingredients:

  • 10 cups (1 lb. 12 oz) day-old soft pretzels, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
  • 1 cup (5 oz) carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (4.75 oz) celery, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (5.5 oz) onions, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced (2 tsp)
  • .5 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • .5 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb bratwurst or other mild sausage, casings removed
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • One 11-oz can condensed cream of celery soup

Method:

  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spread the pretzels out in a single layer on 2 large baking sheets, then transfer to the oven and toast until the pretzel pieces are until just lightly golden and crispy, 15–17 minutes. Transfer the pretzel pieces to a large bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. When the foam begins to subside, add the carrots, celery, onions, season lightly with kosher salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender, 12–14 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and poultry seasoning and continue cooking until fragrant, 2–3 minutes more.
  5. Stir in the sage, thyme, parsley, and black pepper, remove from heat, then scrape the mixture into the bowl with the pretzel pieces. Wipe out the skillet and return it to medium heat.
  6. Add the sausage and cook, stirring frequently and breaking the meat apart with a wooden spoon until it is cooked through, 10–12 minutes.
  7. Transfer the sausage and any drippings to the pretzel mixture. Stir gently to combine, then add the eggs, chicken stock, and cream of celery soup. Use a silicone spatula to fold the mixture together.
  8. Butter a 12-inch cast iron skillet or roasting pan, then transfer the stuffing into it, pressing down gently with a spatula. Cover with aluminum foil, transfer to the oven and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes.
  9. Uncover and continue baking until golden brown and slightly crispy on the edges, 20-30 minutes more.

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