Because everything’s better with sausage: Ryan’s Thanksgiving stuffing “recipe”

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I hope everyone had as good a Thanksgiving as we had.  It was the least stressful I’ve experienced since moving here.  We celebrated with my Grandma (whose birthday is today) and my uncle.  Unfortunately, my uncle’s boyfriend was sick and couldn’t come, so we were down one, but as far as family gatherings go, it went really well.  

Ryan made his pumpkin pie recipe (Julia Child’s pâte brisée recipe + his dad’s pumpkin goo recipe), he and I both made stuffing, and I baked and mashed some yams (no marshmallows, but lots of butter).  Todd picked up turkey at Gelson’s and Honeybaked Ham, and ham, of course, and made stuffing, a jello salad (my Grandma had been raving about jello salads lately, since apparently they were ubiquitous in Idaho when she was growing up, and it “wasn’t a celebration without jello mold”), and rolls.  Grandma made cranberry sauce.  Veggies and potatoes didn’t make it, but we certainly weren’t lacking food, and after my Grandma whipped up some gravy, we sat down.

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The spread. Not pictured: jello salad

Everything was yummy, and after stuffing our faces, it was time for birthday cake.  Todd knows a bakery near him that makes cakes for all the studios and Hollywood elite, so of course they did Grandma’s cake.

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That is a turkey cake, all chocolate inside, layered with ganache.  It was ridiculous and amazing.

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We went home afterwards and I fell asleep almost immediately and slept for 3 hours.  I’d call the whole thing a success.

Ryan’s stuffing was kind of a runaway hit.  I grew up on the recipe-on-the-stuffing-bag (cubes+onion+celery+broth, microwave, done) stuffing, but Ryan’s family does everything fancier, so his is full of a little bit of everything.

Here’s how he made it:

First into the dutch oven (or any big pot, assuming it’s oven-safe, as this went in the oven at the end to crisp up) went celery, onion, and a bit of pepper.

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Next came sausage, which got cooked in a frying pan and drained before going in.  I bought 1.75 pounds (4 links) of Sprout’s house-ground rosemary and sage pork sausage, but Ryan nibbled a lot along the way, so let’s say, about 1.5 lbs.

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One whole box of stuffing cubes.  These are the ones he picked.

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Plus half a bag of crumbly stuffing.

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The pot started to fill up fast.

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Mix, mix, mix

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Next came fennel seeds.  He put about double what he’s holding in this picture.  We like fennel.

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And a lot of sage.

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It’s not the prettiest, but it smelled good.

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Next came dried currants.  About two small handfuls.

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Then golden raisins.

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He doesn’t measure anything, but eyeballs it all, so I took a lot of pictures of the pot to show how much of things went in.

I was glad we bought all the dried fruit in bulk so I wouldn’t be stuck with big containers of these dried fruits sitting around.

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The dried apricots were too big, so they got cut up.  Even if you’re not a big apricot fan (Ryan isn’t), these taste really good in the stuffing.  They get rehydrated some and are fruity and wonderful.

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So there’s the pot with all the dry ingredients.

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Three cups of chicken broth (plus a splash of white wine).  He used low sodium since there was lots of salt in the stuffing bread and sausage.

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Mixed all together

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Then he ovened the whole thing with the lid off until the top reached the desirable crunchiness.  I think in the future, I’d do all the prep the night before, then fridge, and oven on Thanksgiving to heat up + crisp up all at once.

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He normally would have added nuts, too (walnuts or pine nuts), but we had a nut allergy at Thanksgiving and left them out.

So here’s the “recipe” in a nutshell.  Feel free to add or subtract at will.  He certainly does.

Ryan’s Thanksgiving Stuffing

One package stuffing cubes

Half package stuffing crumbs

Nuts (walnuts, pine nuts, pecans…)

Dried fruit, cut up (currants, raisins, apricots, cranberries…)

~1.5 lbs. cooked sausage

~1 cup each celery and onion (cut up)

fennel seeds, sage (rosemary would also be yummy)

3 cups chicken broth (low sodium) + some white wine (for flavor)

1. In a frying pan, cook sausage until done.  Drain, set aside.

2. In big oven-safe pot/dutch oven, cook celery+onion until softened.  Turn off heat.

3. Add sausage, stuffing, nuts, dried fruit, herbs.  Mix.

4. Add broth/wine.  Stir until stuff is evenly wet.

5. Before serving, oven until heated through/crispy on top.

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Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope everyone is happy and healthy and properly stuffed.

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