I made this recipe for the first time Thanksgiving 2011 and it is now the only Stuffing I make. I found it in a Barefoot Contessa cookbook, loved all of the ingredients and thought it was delicious. I know there a lot of stuffings out there and unfortunately they are not vegetarian (I am still on the lookout for a very tasty vegetarian one, so please feel free to send it to me if you have a great veggie one.) I don’t cook my stuffing in the turkey. I make it ahead of time and cook it in a buttered gratin dish the day of. This is the stuffing that won out this year.
3/4 cup diced dried figs, stems removed
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup Calvados or brandy (I used Calvados, bought the bottle last year)
2 yellow onions, diced (approx. 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 cup (3 stalks) celery, diced about 1/2 inch
1 lb. pork sausage (I do 1/2 sweet and 1/2 hot. Feel free to substitute any kind of sausage you would like. Try to get the butcher to take it out of casing for you. It’s one less thing to do.)
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (please don’t leave this out)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (put in oven at 400 for about 5 minutes and watch them!)
3 cups herb-seasoned stuffing mix (I use Pepperidge Farm)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 extra large egg, beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Place the dried figs and cranberries in a small saucepan and pour in the Calvados and 1/2 cup water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium heat, add the onions and celery and saute until vegetables are softened and onions are translucent (don’t burn them.) Add the sausage, crumbling it as you go. Continue to saute, stirring frequently and breaking up sausage. Keep cooking for about 10 minutes, until cooked and browned up. Add the figs and cranberries with their liquid, the chopped rosemary, and pine nuts, and cook until all ingredients come together, for a couple of minutes. Scrape up and remove all the brown bits with a wooden spoon.
Place the stuffing mix in a large bowl. Add the sausage mixture, chicken stock, beaten egg, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and mix well. (This can be prepared ahead and stored in the refrigerator overnight, which is what I do. It’s just too much to do the day of.)
I put the stuffing in a well-sprayed, slightly buttered (optional), baking (gratin) dish. If you put this in the preheated over, you will likely cook it for at least 45 minutes and probably more like an hour to two hours if it’s doubled. I also stir frequently while it is cooking, and then let it go for the last 15 minutes and it browns up. Taste for Salt and Pepper.
obviously if you are doubling this recipe you will need to use a large (very) frying pan. Or you can just do it in batches. You will need a very large pan to cook it up in though. You need to spread it out while it cooks so it cooks through. Once it is cooked you can always put it in a pretty baking dish and as it heats up just mix it through every once in a while so top doesn’t burn and bottom won’t be soggy.
I know everyone thinks that their stuffing is the best, but if made properly this one is absolutely amazing!
*This will probably serve at least 8 as one of many sides, but feel free to double.