Stuffing is among the most comforting of comfort foods in the winter season. Traditionally made during Thanksgiving, but not limited to that sole holiday, I make this throughout the colder months since it is a simple one-pot type of meal to make. Ok, well maybe technically not “one” pot, but you know what I mean; just a little bit of prep work, and then it practically takes care of itself in the oven. There are countless ways to make stuffing, as many ways as there are families, friends, and amateur cooks in our homes. For me, I prefer the simple combination and contrast between the savory pork and tart apple, with the celery and fennel adding a refreshing bite in the background.
1 pound pork sausage
1 loaf of bread (1 pound)
3 celery ribs, diced
1 apple, diced
1 onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 9 x 13 baking dish by lightly greasing it with butter or spraying with oil.
2. Using a serrated knife, cut the loaf of bread into 3/4 inch cubes. Spread them onto a baking sheet and toast in the oven to dry them out, just until they are lightly golden around the edges (about 5 -7 minutes). Remove from oven, set aside.
3. Remove the sausage meat from their casings and cook in a large skillet set over medium-high heat until browned. Use a wooden spoon to break the sausage up into smaller pieces.
4. Into a large mixing bowl, place the cooked sausage, toasted bread cubes, celery, apple, onion, salt, pepper, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine, then turn out into the prepared baking dish. Pour the chicken stock over the mixture and drizzle the top with the melted butter.
5. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 350F for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake 5 – 10 minutes more until the top is toasted and the edges are crispy.
6. Wasn’t that easy? Now go eat!
* Not all sausages are created equal. Depending on the type you choose, taste a small piece after cooking in step 2 and adjust the amounts of salt, pepper, and spices to be put into the mixture during step 3.