A Cozy Thanksgiving: Golden, Torn-Bread Dressing Takes A Ride On The Gravy Train

Torn Bread Dressing

Though the glorious Thanksgiving Day spread as a whole is quite the thing that a food lovers dreams are made of, each of us probably has a favorite offering in particular that we can hardly wait to sink our teeth into. I know, I know, it’s difficult to choose a favorite. Each unique morsel on that table has a succulence all it’s own, a temptingly rich or sweetly-savory magnetism that just pulls a person in; but surely there’s that staple or side dish that is worthy of an extra helping or two, or, dare I say it…three? Well, why the heck not, it’s Thanksgiving Day, for heaven’s sake. No one’s about to judge you, or at least, they shouldn’t; just look at their plate. Indeed, I do have such a favorite, and it’s the dressing, or the baked-outside-of-the-bird type of stuffing. And not just any dressing, might I add; Golden, Torn-Bread Dressing, to be exact. And if it’s smothered in home-made, Savory Herb Gravy, then it becomes even more irresistible.

Torn Bread Dressing

Torn Bread Dressing

Getting stuffed on dressing is pretty much a tradition for us each year. Whether I’m preparing a small, stay-at-home Thanksgiving dinner just for our little family, or bringing an item along to a T-Day potluck with extended family, I always make a gi-normous amount of my Golden, Torn-Bread Dressing. It’s that one thing in particular that is just so darn good when eaten fresh, or reheated later and eaten all by itself with a simple drizzling of leftover gravy that just melts right in. Good, fresh bread already has a built-in “yum” factor; it’s soft, chewy, and just plain satisfying, and it’s the perfect “sponge” for absorbing all of the delicious ingredients that one can think of to add in when making a casserole-style stuffing. Combined with rich melted butter, flavorful chicken stock, cheeses, spicy sausage and a touch of dried fruit and fresh herbs, torn-bread dressing becomes puffy in the oven as it bakes and caramelizes on top, making for a soft, spoonable and amazingly velvety side dish. It’s the easiest (and safest) way to make a wildly scrumptious stuffing side dish, with no stuffing of a turkey actually required.

Torn Bread Dressing

My mouth is already watering at the thought of partaking in the Thanksgiving Day feast, and this year, I’m bringing my famous Golden, Torn-Bread Dressing and Savory Herb Gravy combo to the family pot-luck gathering, as requested. It’s a time to indulge a little, to enjoy the taste of what’s before us on the table, all in the spirit of gratitude for what is. Golden, Torn-Bread Dressing blends together the best of the flavors of the holiday, all in one, soul-warming dish; and topped off with the golden elixir of savory herb gravy, there’s no telling how many helpings are in all of our futures.

Taste what’s good and pass it on.


Torn Bread Dressing

Golden Torn-Bread Dressing with Four Cheeses, Spicy Italian Sausage, Fresh Herbs and Sweet, Dried Apples, with Savory Herb Gravy
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(*This dish can be prepared and poured into a casserole/baking dish a coupled of days ahead of time; just cover the dish with plastic wrap or foil, place into the fridge until the day you want to bake/serve it, at which point you can take it out of the fridge, allow it to come to room temp, then bake as directed below.)

(Serves about 6-8)


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 Spicy Italian Sausage links, casing removed
4 celery stalk, finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
1 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1lb.) chewy French bread loaf
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped sage leaves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, divided use
½ teaspoon dry thyme
½ teaspoon salt, plus a pinch, divided use
½ teaspoon black pepper, plus a pinch, divided use
½ cup chopped, dried apples
2 cups chicken stock, warm
6 tablespoon melted butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cup shredded, Italian Four-Cheese blend
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
• Savory Herb Gravy (recipe below)


-Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and lightly butter a medium-sized casserole dish.

-In a large, non-stick skillet set over medium-high heat, add the olive oil; once the oil is hot, add in the Spicy Italian Sausage, crumbling it into the pan and using a spoon/spatula to break it up; allow the sausage to cook for a couple of minutes, and then add in the celery, onion and garlic, plus a pinch of salt and pepper; stir the mixture together and allow to cook until the veggies and sausage is a light golden-brown; once golden, remove the pan from the heat and set aside for a moment.

-Next, into a large bowl, begin tearing bite-size pieces of the French bread; add to the torn bread the sauteed veggies and spicy sausage, the parsley, sage, fresh thyme leaves, ½ teaspoon of the Italian seasoning, dry thyme, the ½ teaspoon of salt and pepper, and the chopped dried apples, and toss the mixture together; next, add in the warm chicken stock, the melted butter, the beaten eggs, 1 cup of the  shredded Italian Four-Cheese blend, and the Parmesan, and combine very thoroughly; once well mixed, turn the dressing mixture into the buttered casserole dish and top with the remaining ½ cup of shredded Italian Four-Cheese blend and ½ teaspoon of Italian seasoning; cover the casserole dish with foil, and place the dish into the oven to bake for 30 minutes; after 30 minutes, remove the foil from the casserole dish, place casserole back into the oven, and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until golden-brown on top, and puffy. Serve while warm with T-Day dinner and Savory Herb Gravy.

Savory Herb Gravy ingredients: (makes about 4 cups)

4 ½ cups chicken or turkey stock
½ small onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped (no need to peel)
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 sprigs thyme
3-4 sprigs parsley
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, divided use
4 tablespoons butter
6 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
• Pinch salt


-Add the stock, the chopped onion, carrot, celery, garlic, sprigs of thyme and parsley, and ½ teaspoon of Italian seasoning into a medium-large pot, and bring to the boil; once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and allow the stock to simmer for about 20 minutes; after the 20 minutes, turn the heat off, and strain the stock into another clean pot, discarding the vegetables; set the stock aside for a moment, keeping it hot.

-In a large sauce pan set over medium heat, add in the butter, and allow it to melt; once melted, sprinkle in the flour, and stir the butter/flour together to form a “roux”, or your thickening agent; allow the roux to cook for about 1minute (keeping it a pale color), and then, slowly begin adding the hot, strained stock into the roux, whisking the whole time to avoid lumps; once all stock is added, continue to gently whisk for another minute until the gravy thickens up a bit more; once thickened, turn the heat off from under the gravy, and add in the remaining ½ teaspoon of Italian seasoning, the fresh thyme leaves, the cracked black pepper, and the pinch of salt. Serve hot with T-Day dinner and Golden, Torn-Bread Dressing.

{ 14 comments… add one }

  • Velva November 19, 2012, 5:51 pm

    This is an absolutely beautiful stuffing! Thanks for sharing.


  • Heather November 20, 2012, 12:03 pm

    This looks perfect! But I am in a time crunch and don’t have any dried apples. Can you leave out or would it be missing something? Any ideas to use as a substitute?

  • The Cozy Apron November 20, 2012, 2:08 pm

    Hi Heather, you can leave them out if you’re pressed for time; another option is to very finely dice a fresh, peeled apple, and add that in. Enjoy!

  • Andi November 20, 2012, 9:07 pm

    I’m wiping drool off my keyboard. I think this just got added to Thursday’s menu, and I don’t even *like* dressing.

    • The Cozy Apron November 21, 2012, 5:54 am

      Hi Andi, add this to your T-Day menu, and this dressing will make a “liker” out of you, believe me! Thanks for your comment!

      • Andi November 23, 2012, 7:26 am

        This was so good that I just ate a big bowl of it this morning for breakfast, doused with giblet gravy! I used my homemade spicy andouille sausage instead of spicy Italian. Great recipe!

        • The Cozy Apron November 23, 2012, 1:01 pm

          Andi, so glad this recipe made it onto your menu, and that you came back to let me know what you think! (My husband and I eat our leftovers of this dressing as a meal the next day, too, topped off with the gravy!) Good substitution on the sausage, BTW.

  • Diana October 4, 2014, 7:07 pm

    So it says 4. 1/2 cups stock… Total of 2 cups? And the same for the butter… Total of 3 tablespoons?

  • The Cozy Apron October 5, 2014, 9:32 am

    Hi Diana! No; when you read that, it’s read as 4 whole cups plus a 1/2 cup more—total of 4 and a 1/2 cups ( 4 1/2 ). Same with the butter: it’s 6 whole tablespoons plus a 1/2 tablespoon more (6 1/2 ). Hope that helps!

  • Erica November 23, 2014, 2:07 pm

    Hello! Just wondering…do you want the bread to sit out and get stale or hard first? Or do you use fresh bread?

    • The Cozy Apron November 23, 2014, 2:42 pm

      Hi Erica, it doesn’t need to be stale, as I’ve used freshly bought, myself. But if you have the loaf the day before, it certainly won’t hurt for it to be “day old”.

  • Cathryn November 29, 2014, 11:59 pm

    Hi, finishing the stuffing up, it was very good were even thinking about having it as a regular now in our home. I had bought apple rings thinking they would be the same as dried apples but they weren’t they were like gummy bears, even though thanksgiving is over I’m still going to be looking.

  • The Cozy Apron December 2, 2014, 2:26 pm

    Hi Cathryn, so glad you all enjoyed this stuffing/dressing! And yes, you really need to use real dried apples. (Mine were dried apple “rings”, but not the gummy kind!) I’m excited to read that you plan on making this again, holiday or not! Thanks for your comment.

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