Pilgrim Casserole

One recipe for the Buttermilk Brined Turkey Breast makes enough for this Pilgrim Casserole recipe as well as the Turkey and Corn Chowder with Bacon and Chipotle and Turkey and Poblano Red Eye Stew later in the week.
  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 45 min
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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1/2 stick butter

Six slices good-quality bread, white or wheat, diced into 1-inch cubes 

Poultry seasoning 

1/2 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil 

8 slices good-quality bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces 

3 to 4 ribs celery with leafy tops, chopped 

2 apples, such as honey crisp, chopped 

1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped 

Salt and freshly ground black pepper 

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped 

A handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped 

1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken stock


One 12-ounce bag cranberries

3/4 cup sugar 


5 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup flour 

4 cups turkey or chicken stock 

1/4 cup maple syrup 

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 

Coarse black pepper


Butter, for greasing

1 Buttermilk Brined Turkey Breast, recipe below, sliced 1/2-inch thick across the breast

2 1/2 cups shredded sharp white Cheddar

Buttermilk Brined Turkey Breast:

4 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup Sriracha or other hot sauce, such as Frank's Red Hot 

2 round tablespoons kosher salt 

6 to 8 peppercorns 

2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed 

1 lemon, sliced 

A few sprigs chives, coarsely chopped 

A few sprigs dill, coarsely chopped 

A few sprigs parsley, coarsely chopped 

3 boneless turkey breasts (about 2 1/2 pounds) 

Olive or canola oil 

Poultry seasoning 



For the stuffing: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Melt the butter in a small pan or microwave oven. Toss the bread with the melted butter and season liberally with some poultry seasoning. Arrange the bread on a baking sheet and bake until golden and toasty, 15 to 20 minutes.

In a large deep skillet heat the oil, half a turn of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook to render the fat and until almost crisp. Add the apples, celery, onions, thyme, parsley and some salt and pepper. Cook to tender-crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the toasted bread to the pan and moisten with some stock.

For the cranberries: Place the cranberries, 1 cup of water and the sugar in a pot. Bring to a boil. Cook to crack the cranberries and thicken, then remove from the heat.

For the gravy: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium to medium-high heat, whisk in the flour and cook to light golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the stock, and then add the syrup, Worcestershire and some pepper. Cook at a low bubble, stirring occasionally, until the gravy coats the back of a spoon.

For the casserole: Grease a casserole dish and fill with the stuffing. Top the stuffing with the cranberry sauce, spreading in an even layer. Shingle the sliced turkey across the cranberry sauce and top the turkey with some gravy, reserving some gravy to pass at the table.

Top the turkey with the cheese, then cool and store the casserole for a make-ahead meal or bake to serve immediately.

To bake and serve, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the casserole from room temperature until hot through, light brown and bubbly, 35 to 45 minutes.

Buttermilk Brined Turkey Breast:

Place the buttermilk, Sriracha, salt, peppercorns, garlic, lemon, chives, dill and parsley in a double-bagged 2 1/2-gallon plastic resealable bag. Add the turkey breasts and refrigerate on the bottom shelf of the fridge overnight.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Arrange a metal rack over or in a rimmed baking sheet and rub the rack with oil. Remove the turkey breasts from the brine and pat them dry. Arrange the breasts on the prepared baking rack and coat the skin with a little oil, sprinkle with poultry seasoning and cook until a thermometer reads 165 degrees F and the skin is light to medium golden brown, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

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