I just love this recipe. It's so easy, you can make it in one pot, and it tastes like pure homey heaven. I paired this with the crown roast of pork recipe I made to celebrate Hardly Housewives' millionth hit and man oh man ...it was just so darn good.
So this is controversial, but I like to use baguette for my stuffing recipe. It soaks up the chicken stock and all of the flavorful drippings from the sausage, and crisps up beautifully in the oven. Baguette. Boom. After cubing it up, just toast it in the oven for 15-20 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Just to dry it out a bit.
The key to adding onion and celery to your stuffing is to chop it up fine...you do NOT want chunks of onion or celery in your stuffing. Trust me on this. If you don't like stuffing it's probably because of unruly chunks of celery. No spanks.
Next, brown up your Italian sausage. I used to use Jimmy Dean sausage but then my Uncle Mike yelled at me so I use Italian now. He was right.
After removing the sausage, you'll be left with all of the beautiful brown flavorful bits. If you even THINK about disregarding these, then just forget it. Power off your computer and go give yourself a long pep talk in a nearby mirror. Because it's a crime to let flavor like this go.
In order to lift them off the bottom, crank the heat to high, add chicken stock (you could also use wine) bring to a simmer and scrape the bottom of the pan. I pour the drippings into the sausage bowl, and then move on to the onion and celery.
Add a stick of unsalted butter. Yes a stick. So sue me.
Add your onions and celery and gently saute over medium heat until they become soft and translucent...about 5 minutes or so.
Add a quarter of a teaspoon of each dried sage and dried thyme. I would have used fresh, but I forgot to buy them. I always have dried herbs on hand and quite frankly, this worked great. I also add a generous amount of freshly ground pepper.
Ok. Here we go. Add the sausage back into the pot.
And then add the baguette croutons and your chicken stock. Add about 1 cup at a time stir, mix, and then keep adding more stock. I added a total of about 5 cups. This is where you have to "work" the stock into the stuffing. I usually get in there with my hands, breaking down the big chunks of bread as I go.
After the bread has soaked up all of the stock and it's nice and moist, add a handful (about 1/4 cup) of dried cherries. You can certainly add more, but I like just a hint.
This is what you want it to look like.
I mean, I could have eaten it like this. Who am I kidding? I totally did. Like a bowl worth.
I cooked this in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes, until the top was golden, golden brown.
The key is to add as much stock as absolute possible without it becoming soupy...this way your stuffing will basically be a sausage bread pudding...not a dry stuffing mess.
Drool to the face. Sausage stuffing to the face. I need a treadmill to the face.
Sausage Cherry Stuffing Recipe
1 French Baguette
1 Lb Mild Italian Sausage
1 Cup of Finely Diced Yellow Onion
1 Cup of Finely Diced Celery
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter
1/4 Tsp of Dried Thyme
1/4 Tsp of Dried Sage
1/4 Tsp of Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
5 Cups of Low Sodium Chicken Stock
1/4 Cup of Dried Cherries
Cube and toast baguette. Brown sausage from pan and remove. Deglaze the pan with a 1/4 cup of chicken stock and scrape the bottom. Pour drippings into the bowl with sausage. In same pan, add butter and melt over medium heat. Add celery, onion, thyme, sage and pepper and saute until veggies are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add baguette and sausage to pan. Pour stock and work stock in with your hands until stuffing is absolutely saturated - 1 cup at a time up to 5 cups. Add cherries at the end and then bake in greased pan for 30 minutes at 400 degrees, or until stuffing is golden brown.