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Homemade stuffing, so good, you wont want to wait for the holidays!
I get so many compliments on this stuffing each year. It's probably the most popular dish on the table. Through watching lots of different cooking shows, I sort of created this recipe from seeing so many other good recipes. These ingredients together, just sounded so good to me. The spicy sausage seems to be the thing that puts it over the top, but you can make it with mild as well.
I buy two loaves of plain, white french bread... nothing fancy, just tasty. Wheat or any french loaf would do. I cut them into small cubes, 1 in., then lay them on a pan to dry in the oven a couple days before Thanksgiving/Christmas. And to be really honest, that is my intention, however I seldom make time for that. In truth, I'm lucky if I remember to do this the night before so while the turkey is cooking, I put them in the oven to bake and they turn out... probably better than if I'd have let them go stale the way I meant to.
Next, I chop the veggies. This can be done the day before and left in a ziplock bag, roll the air out of the bag. I have used a food processor, but the veggies lose a lot of crunch and flavor when sliced too thin. So chop the celery, the sweet onion, a crisp apple, and the fennel. If you've never used fennel before (also called anise) it's no big deal, so don't be intimidated. I cut off the stalks on top and chop those up just like celery (I don't use the leafy part at all, I throw those away) and I chop up the bulb part like an onion, removing the hard bottom and the small inner core. So if you can chop celery, and you can chop and onion, you can chop fennel. I use hot (spicy) sausage, because everyone loves this stuffing spicy, but if you have little ones who eat stuffing, then you might want to go with the mild. I then set the sausage aside and in the same pan, I add some olive oil and sauté the veggies with a little garlic. I mix the veggies with the sausage and scoop it over the bread cubes, which should all be dried. Toss it just a little so the veggies and meat are distributed well. I then cut salted butter into small squares and place it all over the entire mixture, trying to be liberal as well as even. I pour chicken stock over the top of the entire thing, but am very careful not to drench it and to pour it evenly. Most stuffing recipes say they cook in 30 min., but I don't like anything soggy at the bottom, if anything, I would prefer it a slightly crisp on the bottom, so it's up to you how long you want to cook it. After 20 min, stir it a bit, get the bottom to the top and the top to the bottom and bake for about 20 min. more. I stir the wet stuffing to the top about every 15 min.The best way to tell though when it's ready is to stir thru and see if it's crispy or soggy... keep bringing the wet bread to the top. When it's golden brown and not too wet, it's done... give yourself at least an hour for cook time, but keep an eye on it. (Oven set to 350)
- approx. 2 lbs. (2 tubes) ground sausage, hot or mild
- 2 loaves plain white french bread, (or wheat)
- about 5 stalks celery
- 1 crisp apple
- 1 large sweet onion
- 1 bulb of anise/fennel
- 3 Tbs olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, fresh or from a jar
- 1 1/2 sticks salted butter
- 1 1/2 - 2 C. chicken broth
- *Don't forget to spray the pan so the stuffing doesn't stick. *I do not use extra seasoning because the sausage adds more than enough flavor and you don't want to overdo it.