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To save some time you can toast the bread cubes will in advance and freeze them until ready to use in the dish --- turkey sausage or Italian sausages can be used for this, also adjust the sage amount to suit taste --- a 1-pound day-old loaf of French or Italian bread will work great for this recipe.
- 9 cups toasted bread cubes (from white bread, crusts removed)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 lb turkey sausage, casings removed (mild or spicy) or 1 lb Italian sausage (mild or spicy)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste) (optional)
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 3 celery ribs, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic (or to taste)
- 1 (10 ounce) can sliced mushrooms (very well drained, or use fresh sauteed mushrooms)
- 2 medium granny smith apples (peeled, cored and chopped into about 1/2-inch pieces)
- 1 1⁄2 cups coarsley chopped pecans, toasted (or use toasted walnuts)
- 1 1⁄2 cups dried cranberries (can use more to taste)
- 1 teaspoon dried sage (or to taste, or use 1 tablespoon fresh chopped)
- black pepper
- 1 1⁄2-2 1⁄2 cups low sodium chicken broth or 1 1⁄2-2 1⁄2 cups turkey broth
- grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- Butter a 4-quart casserole dish.
- In a large skillet melt butter; add in the sausage meat with onions, celery, garlic and cayenne pepper (if using); cook breaking up the meat with a spoon until the meat is no longer pink and the vegetables are tender (about 7-10 minutes).
- Add in apples and mushrooms and cook 2 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
- Stir in the the nuts, toasted bread cubes and dried cranberries; toss to mix well with wooden spoon.
- Season with sage, lots black pepper and salt (I use seasoned salt but white salt will do).
- Transfer the mixture to a buttered casserole dish and drizzle with chicken or turkey broth (using about 1-1/2 cups for a drier stuffing, or use up to 2 cups for a moister stuffing).
- Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on top.
- Bake covered in foil in a 350 degree F oven (second-lowest rack) for 30 minutes; uncover and bake until bread is golden brown and the stuffing is heated through, about 20-25 minutes more.
Great stuffing! I like how all the flavors are subtle and blend together so none of them overwhelm each other (though the nuts do get lost in it). I used sourdough bread, just a tablespoon of Smart Balance, fresh mushrooms and cranberries, and the mid point on the broth - and it worked wonderfully. This served 20 as a side dish at Thanksgiving. Very yummy!