(I went in a nostalgic/ Norman Rockwell-ish vein with this recipe using commonly found supermarket ingredients like Pepperidge Farm Corn Bread Stuffing Crumbs and Jimmy Dean bulk pork sausage. At the same time the kale and dried cranberries give the stuffing a current and colorful appeal. The end result is both traditional and very tasty – exactly what I think Thanksgiving dishes should be. 12 tablespoon butter may seem like a lot in this recipe, but I’ve learned over the years that stuffing tastes best when it is buttery!)
1 bag (14 ounces) Pepperidge Farm Corn Bread Stuffing Crumbs
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, plus additional for greasing the dish
1 very large onion, minced
4 stalks celery, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 pound bulk pork sausage (Believe it or not, I used Jimmy Dean “Sage Pork Sausage” because it just tastes like Thanksgiving. At this time of year, it is sold in the frozen food section. Another sausage such as Italian could be substituted but it would change the flavor profile.)
1 large bunch Tuscan or Lacianato kale, trimmed, center ribs removed, and leaves cut into 1-inch-wide ribbons
1 cup dried cranberries
2 cups chicken or turkey stock
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (I used about 1 ½ teaspoons salt but amount will vary according to type of sausage and stock used in the recipe.)
- Pour the stuffing crumbs into a large mixing bowl.
- Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the onion and celery and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Crumble the sausage into the skillet and continue cooking, breaking the sausage into smaller bits with a wooden spoon and stirring occasionally, until the sausage has lost all of its pink color and begun to crisp and brown, about 10 minutes. Add 1/3 of the kale ribbons, stirring to wilt and incorporate into the mixture. Add the rest of the kale in 2 more batches, repeating the process of stirring to wilt and incorporate. Scrape the contents of the skillet into the mixing bowl with the corn bread and stir well to combine. Add the dried cranberries and mix again until evenly incorporated.
- Return the skillet to a burner set to medium heat. Pour in the stock, and stir to deglaze the pan and scrape up any browned bits clinging to the bottom of the skillet, about 1 minute. Pour the warm stock over the stuffing mixture, add the rosemary, salt, and pepper, and stir well until corn bread stuffing crumbs are evenly moistened and beginning to clump together. The stuffing may be refrigerated for up to 24 hours or baked immediately.
- When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350 F. (If you are roasting the turkey at 325 F., that temp. will be fine as well – just adjust the amount of time the stuffing bakes.) Butter a large, oval or square gratin dish and fill with the stuffing mixture. Bake until heated through and crisped golden brown on the top, 50 to 60 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Serves 10 to 12
Written by Sarah Leah Chase
Sarah develops recipes and concepts for her husband Nigel’s specialty food company, Coastal Goods. She lives with her family on Cape Cod, where she enjoys oystering and gardening as much as cooking.