Two pounds of chicken wings can be substituted for the turkey wings. If you’re using chicken wings, separate them into two sections (it’s not necessary to separate the tips) and poke each segment four or five times. Also, increase the amount of chicken broth to 3 cups, reduce the amount of butter to 2 tablespoons, and cook the stuffing for only 1 hour (the chicken wings should register above 175 degrees at the end of cooking). Use the meat from the cooked turkey or chicken wings to make salad or soup.
1. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 250 degrees. Divide bread cubes between 2 rimmed baking sheets and spread in even layer. Bake until edges have dried but centers are slightly moist (bread should yield to pressure), 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring several times during baking. (Bread can be toasted up to 24 hours in advance.) Transfer bread to large bowl and increase oven temperature to 375 degrees.
2. While bread bakes, use paring knife to poke 10 to 15 holes in each turkey wing segment. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add wings in single layer and cook until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer wings to separate bowl.
3. Return now-empty skillet to medium-high heat, add sausage, and cook, breaking into ½-inch pieces with wooden spoon, until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to paper towel–lined plate.
4. Add butter to fat left in skillet and melt over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in thyme, sage, and 1 teaspoon pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in 1 cup broth, scraping up any browned bits, and bring to simmer. Add vegetable mixture to bowl with dried bread and toss to combine.
5. Grease 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Whisk eggs, 1½ teaspoons salt, remaining 1½ cups broth, and any accumulated juices from wings together in bowl. Add cherries, pecans, sausage, and egg mixture to bread mixture and toss to combine; transfer to prepared dish. Arrange wings on top of stuffing, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and place dish on rimmed baking sheet. Bake on lower oven rack until wings register 175 degrees, 1 to 1¼ hours. Remove foil and transfer wings to plate; reserve for another use. Using fork, gently fluff stuffing. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Directions for Bread Stuffing with Leeks, Bacon, and Apples:
1. Omit pecans.
2. Substitute 12 ounces bacon and cut into ½-inch pieces, for sausage.
3. In step 3, cook bacon in skillet over medium heat until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes.
4. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel–lined plate; pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet.
5. Proceed with recipe from step 4, substituting 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced thin, for onion and 3 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into ¼-inch pieces, for cherries.
Directions for Bread Stuffing with Fresh Herbs:
1. Omit sausage and increase butter to 6 tablespoons.
2. After browned turkey wings have been removed in step 2, melt butter in skillet over medium heat.
3. Proceed with recipe from step 4, substituting 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley for dried cherries and pecans.