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.