A certain family member used to always beg for a certain kind of stuffing every year. Oh, don’t worry, he didn’t insist on Stove Top or anything (cranberry sauce was a different matter entirely, but we won’t go there—or maybe we will. You can’t marry someone who grew up 20 minutes away from where the Pilgrims landed, who had a bus stop at a cranberry bog all through high school, and then expect her to condone cranberry sauce from a can. I’m sorry, you just can’t! In case you’re wondering, my cranberry sauce can help cure people of cranberry sauce aversion, and addiction to canned cranberry sauce. Click here for the recipe).
Anyway! He actually used to insist on Martha Stewart’s Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing, which I made for the first time back in 2003, and made every Thanksgiving up until last year.
In light of unfolding events last Thanksgiving (if you’re out of the loop, click here), I felt at liberty to finally try out a new recipe that had been brewing in my head for some time.
Remember that movie Hanging Up? I saw it when it first came out. I hardly remember anything from it other than it was completely different from the trailers, and that Meg Ryan kept nagging her sister about a stuffing she was going to make that had apricots in it. I knew I could not rest until I had made a stuffing like that. So last year, I dusted myself off from the rubble of a failing marriage, and made the darn stuffing I wanted. It’s pretty good, if I do say so myself.
The first people to taste this stuffing outside last year’s guest-less Richardson Thanksgiving table, were the fine folks at For Your Kitchen in Ogden, Utah. Last Saturday I taught a little class there on Thanksgiving side dishes, and it was great to meet lots of people, cook, share ideas, and eat. If you’re in the neighborhood, I’ll actually be teaching another class in December on time saving Christmas cookies. It’ll be fun, so if you want to come, sign up as soon as you can!
baguette stuffing with sausage and apricots
1/2 pound (2 links) sweet Italian sausage
1/2 pound (2 links) hot Italian sausage
1 onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1 baguette, or other sort of rustic, artisan bread, torn in pieces*
3 cups (3/4 litre) homemade chicken stock, or low sodium canned
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large skillet set over low heat, break up sausage. Add in onion and celery, and cook until sausage is cooked through and onions and celery are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in apricots. Stir in herbs and fennel seed and cook until fragrant.
2. In a large bowl, combine cooked onion mixture, torn baguette, chicken stock, salt, and pepper. Stir in egg.** Place in a 13 x 9” baking pan, dot with butter, and bake for 25 minutes, or until heated through, and golden brown on the edges.
* I got lucky and found a rosemary olive oil loaf at Target. I’ve also seen it at Costco, Smith’s, and King Soopers. If you can find it, then just omit the fresh rosemary. If you can’t find it, then I’m sorry, but it will still be good.
**If you are going to make this stuffing ahead of time, all ingredients must be at room temperature or cold before stirring in the egg. I usually store the mixture in a large bowl in the fridge until right before the bird comes out. Then I stir in the beaten egg and place in a baking dish.
****My trick to getting stuffing to taste like it was cooked in the bird: When the turkey comes out and is resting, pour ½ cup (or more) of the basting liquid over the top of the stuffing, and then bake.