Oh, baby. These stuffing balls are so delicious that I can’t stop eating them! Brenda Johnson, my taste-tester, loves ’em, too. I’m talking about a crispy exterior, and a savory, sumptuous interior. They are gluten-free, too, since I made them with tapioca bread crumbs. Need a nifty side dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas? This recipe is for you:
Cook just until the celery softens.
Now perform a test: Grab a small clump of the mixture, and form it into a ball. If the ball holds its shape, you’re good to go. Otherwise, if it falls apart, your morsels of sausage and celery are too large.
The cure? Throw the mixture into the food processor, and blitz it a few times, just to break up the sausage and celery.
All’s well that ends well, folks.
And here’s a tip: You can prepare the balls in advance up to this point. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
Yet another tip: If you are making the balls for Thanksgiving, pop them in the oven while the turkey is resting.
Need a copy and version of the above? Here we go-go:
Bacon and Sausage Stuffing Balls
As made by Kevin Lee Jacobs (www.kevinleejacobs.com)
Ingredients for 24 2-inch diameter balls — enough for 6 servings
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
7 ounces bacon, finely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
3 or 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (triple the amount for fresh leaves)
Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
The grated zest of one large orange
5 cups fresh, white bread crumbs (crumbs made from gluten-free tapioca bread will work)
2 large eggs, beaten
Special Equipment: A food processor, but only if the balls won’t hold their shape
Adjust oven rack to the lower-middle position; preheat oven to 325°F
Heat a skillet over a medium flame. Add the sausage, and break it up as it cooks. When browned and cooked, transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
Tip the bacon into the skillet, and let it cook just until its fat is rendered — about 4 minutes. Add the onions. Lower the heat and cover the skillet until the onions are soft and translucent — about 7 minutes. Then add the celery, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir, then let cook until the celery is tender — about 4 minutes.
Add the skillet ingredients to the bowl of previously-cooked sausage. Mix well. When cool enough to handle, stir in the orange zest and the bread crumbs. Then stir in the beaten eggs.
Now test the mixture: If it will hold its shape when formed into a small ball, you’re good to go. Otherwise, you’ll need to pulse the ingredients in a food processor, just to break up the sausage and celery.
Form the mixture into 2-inch diameter balls, and place them, as you go, on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Advance preparation: The balls can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day.
Bake in the preheated oven until brown — about 30 minutes.
Serve with roast chicken, turkey, or goose.
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