pecan cranberry stuffing with sausage
I’m going to call this recipe “Stuffing” even though it is not. Technically it is “Dressing.” But because I am from the Northeastern part of the states, I always think of dressing as the stuff you drizzle over salad. The two are not really that different, except stuffing is cooked inside the turkey and dressing is cooked in a baking dish.
As a food-safety fanatic, I can’t in good conscience recommend cooking something inside the turkey. Here’s why: In order to get the stuffing up to a safe temperature you would have to completely overcook the turkey. Plus I love the crusty browned bits of stuffing you get when you bake it in a dish uncovered.
I don’t really buy into the idea that the turkey’s juices will flavor the stuffing to any noticeable extent. As long as you use flavorful ingredients in the stuffing itself, you don’t need the turkey’s juices. Here I have boosted the flavor with a handful of toasted chopped pecans, dried cranberries and lean chicken sausage (I like the one by al fresco.) I didn’t use any butter either, but I was generous with the heart-healthy extra-virgin olive oil. I also added a ton of fresh herbs and celery which gives it that totally classic holiday stuffing/dressing flavor.
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Makes: 10 servings
Serving Size: 3/4 cup each
To make ahead: Can be prepared through step 3, refrigerate up to 1 day ahead.
- 1 pound of whole-wheat sandwich bread, crusts removed and cubed (about 8 cups)
- ½ cup pecans
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 stalks of celery with leaves, finely chopped
- 2 large shallots, minced
- 8-ounces fully-cooked chicken breakfast sausage, such as Al Fresco, diced
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt (see ingredient note*)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups unsalted chicken or turkey stock (see ingredient note*)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spread bread cubes out on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Spread pecans out on another baking sheet. Bake both until the nuts are fragrant and lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes and the bread is dry and toasted, about 20 minutes and.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add celery and shallots, and cook, stirring often until the celery is softened and the shallots are starting to brown, 6 to 9 minutes. Stir in sausage, cranberries, ¼ cup parsley, sage, salt and pepper and remove from heat. Chop pecans and stir in.
- Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Coat a 9 by 13-inch (or similar sized) baking dish with cooking spray. Whisk eggs and stock in a large bowl. Stir in bread cubes and celery mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and cover with foil.
- Transfer to the oven and bake until the center of the dish is set up and the stuffing is steaming hot, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until the top is browned and the stuffing is piping hot all the way through, about 10 minutes longer. Garnish with parsley if desired.
Ingredient note*: Here is how to make home-made stock. If you don’t have time to do that, you can substitute full sodium store-bought broth. If you do, decrease the kosher salt to ½ teaspoon total.