Side Dishes

sage sausage and cranberry stuffing

I freaking love Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving so much that I usually do an entire Thanksgiving dinner in July because eating all that goodness only once a year seems completely ridiculous. So in preparation for the big day, I’d say my second favorite eating day – second only to Ribfest of course, I like to make some side dishes ahead of time to decide what makes the final cut for game day. This stuffing recipe, tweaked just a tad from Queen Ina, is the one I just keep coming back to. It’s super savory with a kick of sweet from the cranberries and is just the very best doused in homemade gravy…I’m drooling. Only 11 days until the big day, I can’t wait!

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Ingredients
16 cups 1-inch bread cubes, 1/2 white and 1/2 sour dough
8 tbs (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups medium-diced yellow onion (2 onions)
1 cup medium-diced celery (2 stalks)
2 tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tbs kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 lb sage sausage (Jimmy Dean makes this)
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup dried cranberries

Now usually I don’t doubt Queen Ina, but in her recipe she says to place the bread cubes in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake for 7 minutes at 300 degrees, so that the moisture comes out of the bread. I’ve made it both with and without the pre-baking of the bread and I’ve got to say I like the stuffing a little softer so I usually omit the pre-bake – totally your call.

Alright onto the to-do’s. First preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the cut up bread pieces in a big bowl.

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In a large saute pan, melt the butter – and yes that is ONE WHOLE STICK.

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Add the onions, celery, parsley, salt and pepper.

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Saute over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are softened then add to the bread cubes.

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Next, in the same saute pan, cook the sausage over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until browned and cooked through, breaking up the sausage with a fork while cooking then add to the bread cubes and vegetables.

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Add the chicken stock and cranberries to the mixture, mix well, and pour into a 9 by 12-inch baking dish.

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Bake for 30 minutes, until browned on top and hot in the middle. Serve warm.

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