Fennel and Pine Nut Stuffing
Fennel gives this bread stuffing a delicious flavor profile. Using the fresh herbs, instead of dried herbs, provides depth of flavor to this sausage, mushroom and bread stuffing recipe.
- 1 (1-pound) loaf sturdy white bread
- 1 pound Italian sausage links, mild or hot
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 bulb fennel, finely chopped, or 2 cups finely chopped celery (or a combination)
- 1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (use mostly parsley, plus sage, rosemary, and/or thyme)
- 1/2 cup pine nuts, pan toasted (optional)
- 3/4 to 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
- Salt and ground pepper to taste
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Preparation time 30mins
Cooking time 90mins
Slice the bread into 3/4-inch cubes and allow to air-dry for several hours (or dry in a 350ºF oven for about 10 minutes). Transfer the bread to a very large mixing bowl and set it aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Poke each sausage several times with a fork and drop into the boiling water. Boil for 13 to 17 minutes, until the center of the sausage is no longer pink. Transfer to a bowl and cool. Score the casings and peel them off. Quarter the sausage lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a very large sauté pan. Stir in the onion, fennel, carrot, and bay leaf and sauté over medium heat for 8 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the mushrooms and sausage. Cover and sauté 3 to 4 minutes more. Remove from the heat.
Remove the bay leaf and add the sautéed mixture, fresh herbs, and toasted pine nuts (if desired) to the bread. Gently toss the mixture and add the chicken broth, 1/4 cup or less at a time, until the bread seems moist but not soggy. Taste the stuffing, adding salt and pepper. Add the eggs and mix gently.
Use this stuffing to fill your bird, or place in a large casserole dish and bake for about an hour, or until light browned on top and hot all of the way through.
NOTES: I have made adjustments to this stuffing recipe over time but it's the stuffing that i have made for Thanksgiving for several years. I never use the eggs in my recipe and I don't use parsley.
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