Roast Turkey with Sausage and Pecan Dressing

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes at least



Appears in

The Glory of Southern Cooking

The Glory of Southern Cooking

By James Villas

Published 2007

  • About

Of the myriad styles of dressings that Southerners make to stuff a turkey for roasting (cornbread and apple, oyster and almond, rice and liver, prune and chestnut, onion and sage, ham and wild mushrooms), none is more popular than a classic sausage and pecan stuffing redolent of sage and any number of other seasonings. Traditionally, the mixture is “tightened” (bound) with either dried bread crumbs or crumbled cornbread, and of course, stuffed roast turkey simply wouldn’t be the same without dark (never white) giblet gravy. Nor would the feast be complete without extra dressing baked till crusty in a pan right alongside the turkey—reason enough to double this stuffing recipe. The only cardinal rule is that the turkey must never be allowed to dry out and toughen from overbaking, so keep a sharp eye after about 2½ hours.


For the Dressing

  • 1 pound bulk sausage
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
  • 5 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 4 cups crumbled cornbread or dry bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage, crumbled
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • cup hot water
  • ½ pound pecans, coarsely chopped

For the Turkey and Gravy

  • One 10- to 12-pound turkey, giblets included
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup water


Preheat the oven to 325°F.

To make the dressing, break up the sausage in a large skillet, fry till all traces of pink are gone, and drain the fat from the skillet. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter, the onions, and the celery, and cook, stirring, till softened, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining butter plus all remaining dressing ingredients, stir till the butter is melted and the ingredients are well blended, and set aside to cool.

Set the giblets aside. Season the turkey inside and out with the salt and pepper, stuff the cavity loosely with the dressing, and truss the bird. (Place any extra dressing in a buttered baking pan, keep it refrigerated till the last 45 minutes of roasting, and place it in the oven with the turkey.) Position the turkey breast side up on a rack in a large roasting pan, pour the water into the pan, cover, and cook 2½ hours, basting from time to time. Uncover and continue roasting till the turkey is golden, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Transfer to a large serving platter, remove the trussing, and cover the bird loosely with aluminum foil till ready to carve. Reserve the pan with the drippings.

To make the gravy, while the turkey is roasting, place the giblets in a large saucepan with enough water to cover, and simmer, covered, 1 hour. Transfer the giblets to a chopping board, chop coarsely, and reserve the cooking liquid. When the turkey has finished roasting, place the pan over moderately high heat and cook down the drippings till nearly burned, scraping the pan. Gradually add the cooking liquid from the giblets, stirring and scraping, till the gravy is slightly thickened and darkened. Stir in the chopped giblets, season with salt and pepper to taste, heat well, and pour the gravy into a sauceboat.

To serve, spoon the dressing into a heated bowl, carve the turkey, and serve with giblet gravy.