They say you aren't supposed to try out a new recipe on guests, but I had to :o). I am so sick of the stuffing you get out of a bag, that I surfed around and found this recipe on Food Network. The stuffing in bags is loaded with sodium and I wanted to try something completely different this year. I mixed up the recipe just a bit. I have to do it, I always try to make the recipes my own. I made this stuffing to the point of baking the day before. Dave transferred a portion of it to the bird before cooking and then I baked the rest of it for dinner. Boy oh Boy was it tasty!!
1 pound mild bulk pork sausage
4 tablespoons butter, unsalted
3 cups sliced leeks, white and pale green parts only, cleaned well (about 2 large leeks)
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped
1 cup chopped celery with leaves
1 tablespoon pork seasoning
1 cup dried cranberries, rehydrated in boiling water for 15 minutes and drained
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 tbsp dried sage
1 tbsp crushed fennel seeds
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
6 cups dried bread cubes (croutons). I made my own by drying out two loaves of bread, so I could limit the amount of sodium.
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 to 3 cups chicken stock, no salt added or low sodium
1 tablespoon lite salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl, combine the pork sausage and the dried spices, sage and fennel. mix well. Saute the sausage in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, crumbling coarsely with the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage and drippings to a large bowl. Melt the butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, apples, celery and pork seasoning to the skillet and saute until the leeks are soft, about 8 minutes. Mix in the drained cranberries, sage and rosemary. Add the mixture to the sausage, then mix in the croutons and parsley. Next add the chicken stock a little at a time until the stuffing is very moist. Be sure not to overdo it; it shouldn't be mushy. Season with salt and pepper. Place in a casserole dish. (The stuffing can be made to this point 2 days before Thanksgiving, refrigerated.)
Bake in a 14-inch oval or 9 by 13-inch rectangular casserole dish and place, uncovered, in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the top is crispy and the center piping hot. Remove and serve immediately.
*Cook's Note: If stuffing a turkey, the stuffing must be cold before being placed in the bird.