Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Just in Time for Thanksgiving - Sausage, Fennel & Pear Stuffing

Hi everyone! Once again, I apologize for being MIA. Sorry! I've been working in New York City for the past couple of months and, given that I live in central Connecticut, the commute has been a bit rough. Two hours one way and then two hours in the other direction. But now I'm back, just in time for the long Thanksgiving weekend! Yay!

Mmmm. Thanksgiving. Turkey, cranberry sauce, STUFFING!! Or dressing, if you'd rather call it that. Down south they tend to call it dressing and up north we tend to call it stuffing. Here's the technical distinction: stuffing is cooked inside the bird while dressing is cooked in a pan alongside the bird. I prefer my stuffing prepared outside the turkey but I still call it stuffing because whenever I call it dressing people give me confused looks and have no idea what I'm talking about. So stuffing it is and always shall be in my house. Although, I love the word dressing because it sounds like you're accessorizing your turkey. Only the most fashionable turkeys are fully dressed in the season's finest trimmings. Haha.

We usually go to my in-laws' house for our Thanksgiving feast which means I rarely get a chance to roast a whole turkey with the works because that's not a meal you can whip up quickly on an ordinary day. So I like to make just the stuffing and serve it as a whole meal with a big green salad. I know. It's a brilliant idea. This works for us because my stuffing recipe has everything you need for a meal- meat, veggies and bread. It's all in there, plus the addition of a little fruit to sweeten the deal. The building blocks of this recipe are turkey sausage, white bread and pears but feel free to switch it up if you don't have any of those things. In a pinch you can sub in pork or chicken sausage, whole wheat or spelt bread, or apples. Vegetarians, you can use soy sausage (which is surprisingly delicious so don't knock it, carnivores) or double up on the veggies and fruit. And now that I'm thinking about it, a handful of chopped pecans or chestnuts would be great too. Maybe I'll add some next time.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

printer friendly recipe

1 loaf (16 ounces) crusty white bread, unsliced, cut in large but still bite-size cubes, 1" or 1 1/2"
3 tablespoons butter
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 fennel bulb, cored and diced small
20 ounces mild turkey sausage
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon dried savory
1/4 teaspoon dried orange peel or 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons fennel seed
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 ripe but still firm pears, cored and diced with skin left on
2 cups low sodium chicken, turkey or vegetable broth

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread bread cubes on a baking sheets in a single layer. Toast in the oven for 10 minutes to dry out the bread and to brown a bit. Remove from oven and pour into a very large mixing bowl.

Melt half of the butter in a large pot over medium heat.

Add onion, garlic, celery and fennel. Saute for 10 minutes, until softened.

Raise heat to medium high. Add sausage and saute while breaking up sausage in little pieces. Saute until sausage is no longer pink, about 10-15 minutes.

Add the thyme, savory, orange peel, salt, fennel and pepper. Stir completely.

Add the turkey and vegetables to the bread cubes.

Mix in the parsley and pears.

Use the remaining butter to grease a large baking pan, at least 9x13 inches.

Spread the stuffing into the pan but don't pack it down too tightly.

Pour half of the chicken broth all over the stuffing.

Cover with tin foil. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.

At the 45 minute mark, take out the stuffing and stir it. Add another 1/3 cup of broth. Recover with the foil and bake for another 20 minutes. Do another check and add a little more broth if necessary. Use your good judgment. If you like wet stuffing then by all means add all of the broth. After the last check, take off the foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes until nicely browned on top.

Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 10.


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