I’ve partnered with SocialStars and Johnsonville to create these
Italian Stuffing Balls.
These stuffing balls are a fun twist on the classic holiday side dish! #SausageFamily
I love being married to an Italian. (Well, technically Laura is half-Italian, but that’s close enough!) Whenever we venture down to central Pennsylvania to visit her family for the holidays, we always find a whole array of delicious food waiting on us. There’s the standard turkey and side dishes (which I happen to love), but then there is an entire Italian feast laid out as well. (I’m particularly fond of the ravioli and meatballs on Thanksgiving Day!)
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in 6+ years of being married, it’s don’t argue with your wife. You aren’t going to win, so you might as well save the energy. And on top of that, don’t argue with an Italian. You won’t win that one, either. If your wife happens to be Italian? Well then you don’t stand a chance of winning that argument. Just give it up! Walk away while you’re still ahead.
What in the world would cause such an argument, you wonder? Well these Italian Stuffing Balls. See, stuffing for me means it needs to be inside the bird. If it’s baked separately, then it’s called dressing. My mom makes a killer cornbread dressing recipe that I have been known to make in February…just because it’s the definition of comfort food! But I digress. Back to this stuffing. Or this dressing.
These Italian Stuffing Balls are a fixture at Laura’s Thanksgiving celebrations. That’s cool. They are quite delicious! (I still make a batch of my mom’s cornbread dressing, too…so we end up with a lot of dressing/stuffing around here.) When we first made these, I made the mistake of calling them dressing balls. I mean they are baked outside of the turkey…therefore they are dressing. Wrong. Laura promptly informed me that these are called Italian Stuffing Balls. I tried to explain that they aren’t stuffed in anything, but I could see that line of reasoning going nowhere so I gave it up. And now we make stuffing and dressing every year…and both are baked outside of the turkey.
These Italian Stuffing Balls are definitely tasty, though. Laura prefers to use day-old white sandwich bread rather than bread cubes. So I just slice open the top of the pack of sandwich bread and let it sit there for a day. By the next day, it’s nice and dry and ready to soak up all of the flavors that go into these stuffing balls. My dressing recipe is baked in a casserole form, but these stuffing balls are kinda fun in that they are shaped into large balls before being baked. Then each person gets a stuffing ball (or two!) for their plate.
So what makes these stuffing balls Italian…besides the fact that my Italian wife makes them? There’s a liberal amount of dry Italian seasonings in there, and then we also add a pound of cooked Italian sausage. Yum! We used Johnsonville’s Hot Italian Sausage for this batch, and I loved the extra spicy flavor. Depending on personal preference, you could also use Mild Italian Sausage or even Sweet Italian Sausage, too. (All 3 flavors are all natural, too!) We’re huge fans of Johnsonville’s ground Italian Sausage, and you can almost always find at least 2 packs in our freezer: a Hot and a Mild. That way we’re all set no matter what type of recipe we want to make for dinner!
Truthfully, we’ve been known to make these Italian Stuffing Balls throughout the Fall and Winter. They are always present at the holiday table, but they are just too tasty to only bring out once or twice a year! And an added bonus here is just how easy these are to make. Aside from making sure you’ve got day-old stale bread, this stuffing balls come together in just a few minutes. In fact, when it comes to Thanksgiving, we often make these balls and then store them in the fridge (covered) overnight. Then we just bake them off the next day. It’s one less thing to do when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. It’s also one less thing to get in the way of me watching the parade!
How do you do stuffing/dressing? And do you ever make it outside of the holidays?
Italian Stuffing Balls
- 1 loaf white sandwich bread day-old *see note
- 16 oz. Johnsonville Italian Hot Ground Sausage
- ¾ cup celery diced
- ¾ cup white onion diced
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 1¼ cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 Tbsp Italian seasonings
- Spray a small baking dish with nonstick baking spray; set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place sausage in large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sausage is browned and fully cooked. Transfer cooked sausage to a paper-towel lined plate and pat dry; set plate aside.
- Lightly wipe excess grease out of pan. Add celery and onions. Sauté over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes, or until onions have softened slightly.
- Meanwhile, cut bread into ½” cubes and place in a large mixing bowl.
- Add cooked onions and celery to bowl along with cooked sausage, egg, chicken stock and Italian seasonings.
- Mix together with your hands until bread is well moistened but not soggy. Shape mixture into (8) balls. (Each stuffing ball will be ~3” across.) Place stuffing balls into prepared baking dish.
- Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes, or until tops of stuffing balls are crispy. Serve hot.