Cooking with Robin Kesselman, principal double bass

Man standing in kitchen and smiling.

Cooking with Robin Kesselman, principal double bass

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, most of us are busy with the hustle and bustle that the start of the holidays brings. To help celebrate, we asked Robin Kesselman, principal double bass, to share this favorite Thanksgiving recipe—a classic stuffing made with his homemade sourdough bread.

Musicians playing violins and double bass together on stage.
Robin Kesselman performs a solo in Missy Mazzoli’s “Dark with Excessive Bright,” August 2020.

The holiday season starts with Thanksgiving, combining the best parts of food and family with none of the stress of gift-giving. Typically, my Thanksgivings involve the Houston Symphony as it is usually a Classical Series concert weekend for the orchestra and we spend the holiday together, enjoying the extra spirit of community amongst the musicians on that day.

The past few years, I’ve been in charge of bringing stuffing to the tableit’s my favorite dish on the table and really easy to make. I stumbled upon a recipe for stuffing in a cooking book called The Food Lab and it provides a skeleton that I riff on. For a classic stuffing you can use any type of bread on hand, but I’m going to use two loaves of my homemade sourdough (as part of my coronavirus experience, I’ve been doing a lot of baking!).

Ingredients:

  • 2 loaves of bread
  • 8 tbsp. butter (1 stick)
  • 1.5 lbs. sausage (I’m using spicy sausage here)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 large ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
  • ¼ cup minced fresh sage
  • 1 qt. chicken stock
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup minced fresh parsley

Man slicing sourdough bread in a kitchen.

Heat the oven to 275F and cut the crusts off the bread into about 1 inch cubes. Lay the bread out on the baking sheet and get into the oven for about 45 minutes (we don’t want to cook the bread, just dry it out to soak up all the flavors of the other ingredients). While the bread is in the oven, I get the rest of the ingredients chopped up.

Man chopping onions in a kitchen.

Once everything is chopped, melt the stick of butter in a pot over medium heat, and then add the sausage, smashing it up and getting it browned. When the sausage looks like it’s in a good place, I add the onion, garlic, celery, and sage, seasoning with salt and pepper as I go. When the onions start to become translucent, remove the pot from the heat and pour in half the chicken stock. Whisk up the eggs in a separate bowl, adding in the rest of the chicken stock and add half of the parsley and slowly pour the egg mixture into the sausage and veggies, making sure to stir constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling.

Man stirring stuffing in a kitchen.

After this, the goodness is ready to meet the bread! Add bread gradually to the pot, making sure it soaks up all the liquid. Once combined, transfer the stuffing into a greased baking dish, cover with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes at 350F. I like to take the foil off after 45 minutes and let the top get a little crispy and brown on top. After cooking, garnish with the remaining parsley and serve.

Man eating stuffing while standing in a kitchen.

Enjoy my stuffing recipe! I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving.

I also hope that you’ll consider supporting the Symphony’s Home for the Holidays campaign and make a gift today!

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