These Bacon and Sausage Stuffing Balls are wickedly delicious — brown and crispy on the outside, sumptuous and savory on the inside. To make them gluten-free, just use, as I did, fresh tapioca bread for the breadcrumb component. Here’s the step-by-step recipe for this Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish:
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.
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Bacon and Sausage Stuffing Balls
- a food processor, but only if the balls refuse to hold their shape
- 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
- 7 ounces bacon finely chopped
- 2 onions finely minced
- 3 celery stalks finely minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- The grated zest of one large orange
- 5 cups breadcrumbs from fresh white bread can use gluten-free tapioca bread
- 2 large eggs beaten
- Adjust oven rack to the lower-middle position; preheat oven to 325°F.
- Set a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage, breaking it up as it cooks. When browned and cooked, transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
- Tip the bacon into the skillet, and cook only until 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 stir in the celery, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook until the celery is tender -- about 4 minutes.
- Add the skillet ingredients to the bowl of cooked sausage. Mix well. When cool enough to handle, stir in the orange zest and the breadcrumbs. Then stir in the beaten eggs.
- Test the mixture. If a small clump holds its shape when formed into a small ball, you're good to go. Otherwise, you'll need to pulse the mixture in a food processor to further break up the sausage and celery.
- Form the mixture into 24 2-inch-diameter balls, and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Make-ahead note: The balls can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day.
- Bake in the preheated oven until the balls are brown and crisp on the outside -- about 30 minutes. Serve while hot.