December 29, 2010

Sourdough Stuffing with Leeks, Apples and Sausage

My mission this year was to try a new stuffing. My family has eaten the Stovetop stuffing since the beginning of time, and those tiny, dried out cubes of fake bread give me the willies.

It was way easier than I thought, though it does have a few steps. Cubing and toasting the bread, sauteeing aromatics, apples and sausage, then combining all of it with eggs and stock before baking. I did everything but adding the eggs and broth before the final bake the day before, while Papa Anderson stood around my kitchen with me, keeping me company. His strong points in the kitchen mostly revolve around excellent suggestions- when I wavered on adding the sausage (we have some dissenters), he encouraged me to ignore the others.

And it was so worth it. As my first homemade stuffing, this one was baller. The sausage was the hit of the dish,  though who is surprised by that?

Sourdough Stuffing with Leeks, Apples and Sausage
Makes a 9x13 pan

1 1-pound loaf sourdough bread, crusts removed, bread cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pound bulk pork sage sausage
1 1/2 leeks, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped celery (about 5 stalks)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided
2 large apples peeled and cubed- Fuji, Granny Smith
3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons thyme
1/4 c.  parsley
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
3 large eggs

1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Spread bread cubes in single layer on large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until pale golden, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer bread to very large bowl.

2. Sauté sausage in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, breaking up into small pieces with back of fork, 8 to 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to bowl with bread cubes.

3. Add onions and celery to drippings in skillet; sautéuntil golden brown, about 12 minutes. Transfer to bowl with bread-sausage mixture (do not clean skillet).

4. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples; sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add sage, thyme and parsley; stir until fragrant, about a minute, then add all to bowl with bread mixture. Season with salt and black pepper.

5. Generously butter 15 x 10 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Whisk broth and eggs in medium bowl; add to stuffing and toss to mix. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees uncovered until top is golden and crisp in spots, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes and serve.

You can assemble this a day ahead- don't add the eggs and broth until you're ready to bake. Refrigerate overnight, then add in eggs/broth while the oven is preheating. Bake as directed.