One of the best things about this stuffing is I started the prep about 2 weeks before Thanksgiving. I had some leftover baguette that I didn't know what to do with so I thought, let me cube this up, leave it out to get hard, then freeze it down. That's exactly what I did and it meant that I had one less thing to do come turkey day. The other part of the dish, the veggie & meat mixture, I prepared the day before. On the day of, I put the whole thing together and baked it off. Organization and prep ahead are the 2 best tips I can give you to ensure you enjoy a homemade from scratch, holiday dinner. Here's the official recipe for my favorite, go-to stuffing that will sure to be the crowd pleaser at your Thanksgiving table:
Stuffing with Fennel, Sausage, & Cranberries:
6 cups of cubed, stale bread (I used a baguette)
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 stick organic, unsalted butter
1 large organic onion, peeled and diced
1/2 cup organic peeled and diced granny smith apple
2 organic celery stalks, diced
1 medium organic fennel bulb, chopped
1/2 organic red pepper, diced
2 organic garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 cup organic dried cranberries
1 tbsp organic fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbsp organic fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 cups organic chicken broth (homemade if you have it)
3 large organic eggs, beaten
salt & pepper to taste
Directions: (if making everything the day of. See "Tip" below for the make ahead)
1. Put the cubed, dried bread in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
2. Add the sausage to a large, deep skillet. Cook on medium heat. Break up the sausage as it is cooking, so that it is in crumbles.
3. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon, leaving the drippings in the pan. Add the sausage to the bowl with the bread and set aside.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Keep the skillet on medium heat. Add the onion, apple, celery, red pepper and fennel. Season with a pinch of salt & pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the veggies start to soften. Add the garlic, cranberries, thyme, and parsley. Stir well to combine.
5. Add the veggie mix to the bowl with the bread and sausage. Add the chicken broth and stir well to combine, making sure all the bread is coated with vegetables and broth. Taste the stuffing and season with salt & pepper to your taste. This will be the last chance to taste before adding the beaten egg, because I don't recommend tasting with the raw egg, but that's just me. Add the eggs and stir well to combine. Spread the stuffing into a casserole dish. Cover with foil and back for 35-40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!!
Tip: If you want to make ahead, which I highly recommend, complete steps 2, 3, and 4 (with the exception of preheating the oven) a day or two before Thanksgiving. The day of, add the bread, cooked sausage/veggie mix, broth and beaten eggs to a large bowl and stir very well to combine. Then bake as recommended.
While the holidays may be over, and we must all wait a whole year to indulge in another Thanksgiving dinner, I wanted to post my recipe for my green bean casserole. As far as my husband is concerned, there can be no Thanksgiving dinner without this dish. For our first few holidays together, it's crazy that we will be celebrating our 14th Thanksgiving this year, I made the traditional green bean casserole with the canned green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and those canned fried onions. However, a few years ago, I sought out to create a homemade version of this classic dish. From start to finish, this dish is homemade, filled with love. I am so in love with my husband, I am honored to be his wife, and for all he does for me and our children, putting a little extra time and effort into making him this perfect dish is the least I can do. Here's how I do it:
Green Bean Casserole:
4 slices uncured bacon
1 tbsp butter
2 organic shallots, thinly sliced
8 ounces organic cremini mushrooms, sliced (I bought my pre-sliced, a nice little time saver)
3 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt and pepper
1 cup organic beef broth
1 cup organic heavy cream
1 pound organic green beans
Directions: Put the bacon in a wide edged skillet, about 2 inches deep, and cook until brown. Remove from pan, reserving the grease, and place the bacon on a paper toweled lined plate to drain. Add the butter to the reserved bacon grease and add the shallots and mushrooms. Cook on medium until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place the green beans in a glass bowl and add a couple of tbsp of water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 2 minutes. Once the veggies are browned, add the flour, salt, and pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the beef broth, stir, and raise the temperature until the the mixture is boiling and starting to thicken. Lower the heat to low, add the cream, chop the bacon into bite size pieces and add to the pan, as well as the green beans and cook for about 5 minutes, or until thick. Place in a 9x13 baking dish, top with crispy onions (click here for the delicious recipe) and cover with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes.
Tip: I make the green bean casserole first, and set aside. When I am on my final batch of crispy onions, I preheat the oven. I just found the onions tasted better when prepared this way.
I have to admit. I used to be one of those people that bought cranberry sauce in a can. You might be one of them too. But have no fear, I am here to help you change your ways. I promise you this, if you try this recipe one time you will never go back to that canned, jellied stuff ever again. You will not believe how easy this recipe is. Here's how I did it:
10 ounce bag organic cranberries
1 tsp organic orange zest
1/2 cup organic orange juice
1/3 cup sugar
1 organic cinnamon stick
Directions: Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 18 minutes. Remove from the heat, put in a bowl, and set aside to cool completely. Mixture will get very thick the longer it sits.
Tip: This recipe is great to do the day before. I prefer the mixture at room temperature which is why I cook it the day of. But it is delicious when served cold.