This stuffing is adapted directly from the stuffing recipe that my mom makes for us every year. I suspect that she cut the recipe (that she has made by heart ever since I first strapped on an apron and climbed on a step stool to help her out) from a magazine 20-30 years ago. This stuffing is perfection in every way for me. Not only the delicious nostalgia, but the sweet and savory combination that rocks my world. The top gets all crispy and the inside is fluffy and soft. The sourdough bread (my addition) puts this stuffing over to top. I love the very subtle sour bite from the bread and the more direct sour pop from the cranberries. On top of it all, pork sausage and I go way back and we are very much in love (sorry, Mark). Anything with sausage can't be that bad. This stuffing compliments the Herb-Butter Rubbed Roasted Turkey beautifully. Speaking of which, I do not stuff the turkey with the stuffing (so maybe I should call it dressing, but that just isn't how we roll in Jersey). I bake the stuffing in a pan on the side, which make it much faster and easier to cook, less prone to salmonella (yeah!), and cuts down on the turkey cooking time significantly. I hope you give this stuffing a whirl for your Thanksgiving table.Sourdough Stuffing with Sausage and Cranberries
1 loaf sourdough bread
1 lb. pork sausage
1 large onion
3 ribs celery
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. each finely chopped fresh sage, rosemary, thyme
(you can sub 1/2 tsp. each dried herbs if you want)
1 cup fresh or frozen whole cranberries
3 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper
1. Slice the bread into small cubes (about 1/4-1/2 inch or so) and put them in a plastic freezer bag. It's best for the bread to be slightly stale when you make the stuffing so I do this a day or two in advance. If you are doing it with fresh bread, just pop it on a tray in the oven for a few minutes to dry it out.
2. To get the stuffing going, heat a frying pan on high with 1 Tbs. olive oil and add the sausage. My mom doesn't cook it all the way (hence her flipping out totally at us when we would sneak bites of stuffing before she baked it). You want to get it nice and brown all over and chunked into bite sized pieces but you don't need to cook it through.
3. Remove sausage to a bowl, lower the heat to medium, and toss in diced onion, garlic, and celery. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and finely chopped herbs. Allow to cook for 4-5 minutes until they begin to get translucent.
Remember, the main ingredient with this stuffing is bread. We are trying to pack lots of great flavors into the stuffing since the bread is fairly bland on its own.
4. In a large bowl, toss in the bread, sausage, onion mixture, cranberries and toss to combine thoroughly. Add the chicken stock and make sure that it is evenly distributed.
5. Spray a casserole dish with baking spray and add the stuffing mixture to the dish. Drizzle the top with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
6. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to cook for another 20 minutes.
Serve up and enjoy!
Make ahead tips:
1. You can brown the sausage and cook the onion mixture the night before. Store them in a bowl together in the fridge and just dump them in with the bread the next morning when you are ready to bake.
2. Bake the stuffing off in the morning, before you cook the turkey. Cover with foil and set aside all day. Once the turkey is out of the oven and resting, pop the stuffing, uncovered, back into the oven to warm through before serving.