Look out people, I’m on a rant. Yup, it’s only been five minutes since my last post, but I’m on a roll. I have been nursing my wounds all week from the news that I was not allowed to “go all food fairy” with Thanksgiving this year. Apparently, change is not appreciated in my family with regards to the Thanksgiving meal, but I have other plans. On this, the most peaceful of holidays, I am waging war on tired recipes. Today, I am thankful for my creative mind, and my cooking skills. Today, I plan to go rogue, be the lone wolf, and make a maverick stuffing! (Ok, I still plan to also serve the preferred Simple Sausage Stuffing, but whatever!)
My rebellion was a departure from all of the traditional ingredients. I swapped dried bread cubes for a loaf of fresh ciabatta bread. I’ve ditched the onions for shallots & garlic, and I tossed the celery in favor of fennel! The sausage stayed, because it’s tasty. I pureed, sauteed, tossed, and baked. Then we tasted, smiled, and let the satisfaction seep in. I have done it. I have created a stuffing that my kids adore! In fact, they cried when I swatted their hands away and stashed the new deliciousness for its formal unveiling tomorrow. Mission complete, rebellion successful, personal satisfaction.
I am now one happy lady that did “go all food fairy” this year, and I’m pretty damn proud of myself!
Ciabatta Stuffing with Fennel & Sage Pesto
3 loaves of fresh ciabatta bread
4 cups of chicken stock
1 roll of sage sausage
1 bulb of Fennel
4-5 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of fresh parsley
10-15 fresh sage leaves
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 Tbsp. of olive oil
Cut the bread into large cubes and place them in a large roasting pan.
Next, brown the sausage in a large skillet, until fully cooked. Drain and set aside, but do not wash the pan.
Now, combine the parsley, sage, thyme, garlic, shallots, and olive oil in a food processor and chop until fine.
Dump the pesto into the same pan that you used to cook the sausage.
Coarsely chop the white bulb of the fennel into pieces (save the pretty tops), and add to the pan.
Sautee for 5-7 minutes over a medium heat until the fennel starts to soften and the garlic and shallots have also browned a bit. Next, add the stock and stir, de-glazing the pan and scraping up all of the yummy leftover sausage bits.
Toss the drained sausage with the bread cubes, then add the liquid mixture, pouring it evenly over the bread and sausage.Use a large spoon to toss the stuffing, ensuring that everything is well mixed, but being careful not to smoosh the bread into a paste.
Once it is well mixed, chop the feather fronds of fennel and sprinkle them evenly over the top of the stuffing to make it look really pretty. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until it is hot and the cubes on top are brown and crispy.