There are those who might say two different kinds of stuffing on the Thanksgiving table is too much. I’m not one of them. I have a problem with choices, finding it hard to just zero in on one thing when faced with an abundance of possibilities. Large menus make me crazy. I wander around big box stores for hours and end up leaving tense, lightheaded and empty-handed. Mega-sized grocery stores get me mumbling to myself and double backing across the isles to make sure I didn’t choose the wrong plum tomatoes out of 72 varieties of plum tomatoes. I’m a Libra, the scales are my sign’s symbol…I weigh and weigh and deliberate and find it hard to toss alternatives away. So that’s why having two stuffings makes perfect sense to me.
This one with with it’s sourdough crustiness, Italian sausage, and prunes seemed like a good balance for my table, a culinary opposite in many ways of the cornbread, leek, bacon recipe from yesterday. The cornbread stuffing is gluten-free (I used only cornmeal, not flour for my cornbread), and this one is not.
And I like that this stuffing, though not gluten-free, is lighter on the breading, and stuffed with vegetables, including the earthy kale, bringing some greens to an otherwise starch heavy table. You can make this a vegetarian stuffing by using veggie sausage, or just lighter by using turkey sausage instead of the pork. Use spinach instead of kale if you prefer…oh no…I’m getting into the realm of too many choices. Better stop here, or I’ll be starting all over making a third stuffing…and really that would be too much!
Sourdough, Prune and Sausage Stuffing with Greens
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living
1 loaf (2 pounds) day-old sourdough bread, bread torn or cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cups homemade turkey stock or store-bought low sodium chicken stock
12 ounces prunes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
2 bunches hearty leafy greens, such as kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped (about 8 cups) or two 10 oz. boxes of frozen greens
2 pounds sweet Italian sausage, casings removed, crumbled (to make this a vegetarian side dish, you may add vegetarian protein like seitan here as a substitute instead, or if you don’t want pork sausage, use turkey or chicken sausage.)
5 celery stalks, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2 onions, chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Bake bread on a baking sheet in a single layer until dried but not browned, about 15 minutes. Remove bread, and let cool. Raise oven temperature to 350 degrees.
2. Bring stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add prunes, and let soak for 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook greens until tender, adding salt and pepper to taste, about 10 minutes, and transfer to a plate. Let cool. Wipe out skillet.
4. Heat remaining tablespoon oil in skillet over medium heat. Brown sausage, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through and no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl using a slotted spoon. Add more oil to skillet if needed, and cook celery, carrots, and onions until tender, adding salt and pepper to taste, about 6 minutes.
5. Drain prunes, reserving poaching liquid. Add prunes, bread, greens, and vegetable mixture to bowl with sausage. Gradually add reserved poaching liquid (about 2 1/2 cups), stirring to combine. Stir in parsley and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Place stuffing in a large baking dish. Dot top with cubed butter. Bake until browned, about 45 minutes. Storage: Stuffing can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat, covered, in a low-temperature oven.