Fresh Sage Makes the Difference In This Sausage Stuffing
Like most families, we have stuffing every Thanksgiving. Why not have it more often? The truth is that stuffing is a delicious side for more than just holiday meals. Use your fresh garden sage and serve this sausage stuffing with grilled pork, roasted chicken or other fowl. Most stuffing is actually "dressing." The difference is that stuffing is cooked inside a bird, while dressing is cooked in its own pan. Chef Iggy bakes his dressing in a pan because to be fully cooked it must reach a temperature of 165 degrees. If you try to hit that goal with a stuffed turkey or chicken, you'll overcook it. Plus, using a big casserole dish means you can make as much dressing as you like.
Before you get wiggy about the packaged stuffing cubes, just know that we tried this recipe one time with an artisanal sourdough loaf, lovingly torn into tiny stuffing-sized bits and toasted in the oven. It was gloppy and yucky. The cubes are better.
Sage and Sausage Stuffing
This recipe will serve about 8 hungry people, 6 if you want to have leftovers.
1 pound breakfast sausage with sage
2 packages unseasoned stuffing cubes
1 cup onion, finely diced
3/4 cup celery, finely diced
1 Granny Smith (or other tart) apple, unpeeled and diced
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 tablespoon dried
2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried and crumbled
1 quart turkey or chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a large, uncovered casserole dish.
In a large saucepan, brown the sausage. Add celery and onion, then sautee for a few minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Toss in the salt, pepper, apple, thyme and sage and sautee briefly to combine and warm. Add stuffing cubes, stock and butter. Mix well to combine. The sausage stuffing can be made ahead to this point.
Put stuffing into buttered casserole dish and cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, or until browned on top.
For family-style meals, serve the sausage stuffing in a pretty casserole dish and let guests help themselves. If you prefer to plate the meal, pile a few spoonfuls of stuffing in the center of the plate. Top with nicely arranged sliced meats or pieces of roast chicken. Curve a few spoonfuls of side vegetables around part of the stuffing. Top with a few sprigs of fresh sage.