Here's one perfect trifecta to start a delicious dish of stuffing: apples, celery and sweet yellow onion. Once sautéed, the medley is married with spicy and salty sausage, over a big bowl of toasted bread cubes. You really can't go wrong with this combo of flavors that pairs perfectly with herb-roasted turkey.
November dinner party, this sausage and herb stuffing from The Barefoot Contessa was a beautiful complement to our Thanksgiving spread.
On a Whole Foods whim, I was charmed by the bags of cornbread chunks and opted to mix them with the cubes of a fresh Italian bread round. I do love the flavor of cornbread stuffing, but this particular store-bought shortcut required a lot more moisture, and therefore, I used more more than the one cup of chicken stock (probably close to two+). Just, fyi, in case you go the same route as me. Nothing that a little extra chicken stock can't fix. (It really is the duct tape of the kitchen pantry, isn't it? You can thank my foodie friend Lisa for that metaphor.)
While the recipe calls for Granny Smiths, I used Fuji apples, for it's what I had left from my last CSA box (for the record: the best apples I've ever had) and I loved their flavor in this dish. I also omitted the dried cranberries. For no good reason other than Eddie can only tolerate so many fruits in a savory dish. In general, baked fruit makes him fidgety, but he deals with it, thankfully. We are polar opposites in that category.
I prepped the stuffing while the turkey baked, and then popped it in the oven while the meat rested and got perfectly juicy before serving. The stuffing bakes at 350 degrees, so if you time it well, you can add another 350-dish to the oven at the same time.
Sausage and Herb Stuffing
Serves 8 to 10
16 cups 1-inch bread cubes, white or sourdough (about 1 1/2-pound loaf)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
2 cups medium-diced yellow onion (2 small onions)
1 cup medium-diced celery (2 long stalks)
2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and large-diced
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed (or, leftover chicken sausage from last week's soup)
1 cup chicken stock (more for really dry bread)
1 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place bread cubes on a sheet pan (or two) in a single layer and bake for 7 minutes to crisp and slightly dry out the bread. Remove bread cubes and add to a large bowl. Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, melt butter and add onion, celery, apples, parsley, salt and pepper. Saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are softened. Add to the bowl of bread cubes.
In the same sauté pan, cook the sausage over medium heat for 10 minutes, until browned and cooked through, breaking up the sausages with a fork as it cooks. Add sausage to bowl of bread cubes and vegetables and give it a good stir.
Add chicken stock and cranberries to the bread mixture, mix well and pour into a 9x12-inch baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, until browned on top and hot in the middle. Serve warm.