Friday, November 12, 2010

Stuffing with Sausage, Pecans, and Cranberries

Wise readers, I have a Thanksgiving dilemma.  As with many things, it goes back to my insatiable sweet tooth and infatuation with craisins.  If I had to subsist on craisins and cheesecake (for protein, of course), I probably could.  I'm not proud of that.  Anyway, on to my dilemma...

Stuffing is my favorite part of Thanksgiving, and I like my stuffing a little bit sweet.  So, I turn to the humble craisin for sweetness and general pizzazz.  I've heard from several people, however, that dried fruit in stuffing is an abomination.  Since I don't know the opinion of all my Thanksgiving guests on this important matter, I am turning to you.  Should I throw caution to the wind and make the delicious but craisin-studded stuffing recipe below this Turkey Day?  The comment section is all yours...please help!

P.S. Come back on Monday for a compilation of all the best Thanksgiving Tips & Tricks the interweb could send me. Yeah, I found some real winners.           

Stuffing with Sausage, Pecans, and Cranberries
Adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
Serves: 12-16 (incredibly hungry people)

2 cups dried cranberries
1 1/2 pounds bulk sausage
1 1/2 sticks butter
4 ribs celery, chopped fine
2 onions, minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
4 teaspoons poultry seasoning (or substitute 2 teaspoons dried sage, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, and 1 teaspoon dried marjoram)
3 pounds good white sandwich bread (I used Arnold brand potato bread), cut into 1/2" cubes and dried*
3 cups pecans, toasted and chopped
5-7 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
4 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cover the dried cranberries with boiling water and let soak for 15 minutes.  (This will soften the cranberries.)  Drain and reserve the cranberries. 

Meanwhile, brown the sausage in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, breaking into small pieces with a spoon, until lightly browned, 5-10 minutes.  Remove the sausage to a separate bowl and reserve until later.   

In the same skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  (If desired, you can substitute the rendered sausage fat for an equal amount of butter.)  Add the celery and onions and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the parsley and poultry seasoning and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Transfer to the biggest bowl you have.  (Seriously, the biggest bowl.)

Add the dried bread, cranberries, sausage, pecans, 5 cups broth, salt, and pepper.  Stir to combine.  Although it sounds strange, taste the stuffing at this point to make sure it's well-seasoned and moist enough.  Adjust the seasonings if necessary.  Also, if the stuffing is too dry, add more broth until it is the desired consistency.  Then, add the lightly beaten eggs and toss to combine. 

Turn the mixture into a greased 10"x15" baking dish.  Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue to bake until golden, about 20-30 minutes longer.  Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

*There are a couple ways to dry your bread cubes.  If you don't have animals or small children who will eat them, simply leave the bread pieces on the counter for a few days to become stale.  Otherwise, spread them onto a very large baking sheet (or two) and bake in a 300 degree oven for 30-60 minutes.  Stir a couple times during baking to make sure your bread dries out evenly.  (Please note: if you stir while the tray is still in the oven, some bread will most likely fall out of the pan and into the darkest depths of your oven.  Then it will burn and stink up your house.  I may or may not know this from experience.)  Also, make sure you cool the bread cubes before using them in your stuffing.  If you don't feel like making your own stuffing cubes, feel free to buy the ones that come in the bag.  We don't judge here at Hot Dinner Happy Home.  But remember to add extra broth if you're using bagged bread cubes.


  1. ohmyword! This recipe looks fabulous! I will definitely try this for Thanksgiving! I would not be excited with the lowly RAISIN or even a PRUNE, but the CRAISIN gets my vote! I'm IN!!!

  2. I don't like fruit and nuts mixed in with things (other than with each other in trail mix) so I would probably avoid it. It looks like a yummy recipe though.