The middle of the night has been a funky time for me lately. Anywhere from midnight to 6 am, our three month old wakes up and decides she’s hungry, wet, bored, or maybe even worried about global warming, so she let’s us know. Loudly.
The next hour can go one of two ways: (a) I can barely hold my eyes open while burping her so I play a few minutes of some stupid game on my phone then go straight to bed, or (b) I lay her on my shoulder and end up on a website like Love & Olive Oil which fills with me an inappropriate amount of energy for 2 am. I either put it to good use or lay there thinking. So here I am, burning the 2 am candle (literally, it’s apple pumpkin spice and it smells good), and talking to you about this stuffing.
Last year, we unabashedly made stuffing from a box. It contains so much butter you’ll want to make it before your guests show up and throw out the
evidence box so you don’t start calculating how many miles you’re going to have to run the next day. (Let’s be honest. That number is “too many” and you’re not going to run anyways.)
This year, I was looking for something different. I wanted the richness of butter without using a whole cup of butter, the crisp of the crouton, but something more than just onions and celery for flavor. For those of you that roast your turkey with aromatics (onion, celery, herbs, etc), feel free to use leftover vegetables from this recipe instead.
For those of you that are worried this is too much of a vegetable casserole or that the apples will make it weird, trust me that these flavors mellow out a lot. The predominant flavors in this sausage stuffing are the buttered croutons and a nice hint of Italian sausage, but not so much it becomes a meat dish.
Cranberry Apple Sausage Stuffing
- 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings (Note: use a fatty Italian sausage that you’d be willing to eat by itself (cooked of course). If you skip and buy crappy or lean sausage, this recipe will suffer. D’aw, poor stuffing…)
- 1T + 1 /2stick (1/4 c) butter
- 2 cups white part of leeks, chopped in 1/4″ slices (This equates to the white part of ~2 medium sized leeks)
- 1 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 1 cups celery, chopped
- 2 tsp poultry seasoning (see below for recipe or buy pre-made)
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 6 cups white bread cubes
- 1 and 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1/4 tsp salt (more to taste, depends on how salty your sausage and chicken stock are)
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
Yield: 10 servings
Note: This makes slightly more than you’ll need for the stuffing recipe.
- 1 tsp ground sage
- 3/4 tsp ground thyme
- 1/2 tsp ground marjoram
- 1/4 tsp ground rosemary
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
Preheat your oven to 350 F.
If you’re starting with a package of pre-made stuffing “croutons”, skip this step. Otherwise, if you’re starting with fresh bread, cut into small, roughly equal sized cubes. Spread them out on multiple sheet pans and bake at 200 F until they’re dry like croutons, ~10-15 minutes depending on your bread.
After you’ve removed the sausage from the casings, break up into small pieces. In a large skillet on medium heat, cook the sausage until just done. It will continue to cook in the oven and you want to keep as much moisture (fat) in there as you can. Remove the sausage from the pan, keeping the sausage fat. That’s free flavor right there, so we might as well use it.
Add the leeks, apples, celery, and poultry seasoning to the pan and stir to combine. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender (~10 minutes).
Add the remaining butter and stir to melt. Add the chicken stock and rosemary then stir to combine.
In a large bowl, toss together the bread and dried cranberries, then add the mixture from the pan. Stir to combine but don’t overmix and make it mushy!
Butter a large casserole (roughly 11×9). Add the stuffing and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes covered then 15 minutes uncovered.