Ferla Spice, Sage & Potato Dressing

Serves 4– 6.

Dressing is simply stuffing that’s baked on its own instead of filling a roasted bird. With this year’s smaller holiday gatherings, dressing is an especially appealing option. We make dressing in individual portions — small mounds baked on a sheet. That way, every serving includes both the soft, satisfying interior and crispy browned bits.

This version is inspired by the flavors of Sicily. We start with Ferla Spice, our blend of Sicilian herbs and sea salt with a kiss of chile and add dried sage and a little pecorino cheese. Chopped vacuum-packed Italian chestnuts* introduce a hint of earthy sweetness but are completely optional.

Use well-made sourdough bread or a country loaf. Before making the dressing, lay the bread slices on a cooling rack and leave out on the counter to dry (for at least half a day or overnight).

10 slices stale country-style bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1–2 tablespoons butter
1 cup diced onion
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup diced celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon Ferla Spice, crushed
4 dried Sicilian Sage leaves, crushed
Black pepper, to taste
1 cup cubed cooked potato (½-inch cubes)
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
¼ cup chopped vacuum-packed Italian chestnuts, optional
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Tear the bread into bite-sized pieces and put them into a large mixing bowl. (You should net 7–8 cups.) Set aside.

Put the oil and butter into a large skillet set over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and the oil shimmers, add the onions and stir or toss to coat them with fat. Sprinkle in the salt and sauté for 3–5 minutes until the onions look translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Stir in the celery and cook until softened, another 3–5 minutes.

Add the Ferla Spice, sage, and black pepper to the skillet, stir them into the onion mixture, and cook for a minute to release their aromas. Add the potato and chestnuts (if using) to the skillet and stir gently to distribute without breaking up the potato cubes too much.

Transfer the onion mixture from the skillet into the bowl of torn bread. Add the cheese and toss to mix the components evenly.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and broth together before pouring them over the bread mixture. Stir, scooping down to the bottom of the bowl, until the bread is evenly moistened. Set aside for 5–10 minutes so that the bread hydrates and absorbs all the liquid.

Use a large spoon or a disher-scoop to portion the stuffing into individual mounds on the prepared baking sheet (each should be about ¾ cup and lightly packed so that the mound holds together). Don’t crowd the mounds, leave at least 1½ inches between them. Craggy bits that stick up are a good thing — they’ll become the coveted crispy bits during baking.

Bake for 30–40 minutes. Check after 20 minutes, if the dressing is browning very quickly, reduce the heat to 350° F for the rest of the baking time. Before serving, cool the dressing for 5 minutes, which helps it ‘set up’ and hold together.

*Available in jars or pouches at many grocery stores — the chestnuts are cooked, peeled, and ready to use.

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