Awesome Apple, Cranberry, & Sausage Stuffing

Years ago, when I was making Thanksgiving dinner for my family for the first time, I looked up recipes online.  I found one that sounded really interesting, gave it a try, and fell in love with it.  This Thanksgiving stuffing is fantastic! It is very flavorful and fresh-tasting. It will stuff a 10-pound turkey (which serves six) plus extra.

The original recipe, posted by Stacy Polcyn 610223is HERE on Allrecipes.com. I took Stacy’s recipe and adapted it for my own use with substitutions for convenience and
preference, but I want to be sure to acknowledge her original inspiration. Compared to the original recipe, I substituted flavored sausage over the original, added additional fruit, and used tarter baking apples. Other fruits may also be used in place of, or in addition to, cranberries.

When I took this to a Thanksgiving Campout dinner with our Scout troop one year, I ended up making a vegetarian version that I hoped would appeal to a vegetarian family in our troop. Apparently I did OK, because they liked it! (And so did several other non-vegetarians).

Like many of my recipes, I often “wing-it” on amounts of herbs, fruit, butter (you can never have too much butter!), and rarely measure. Life it too short to be constrained by some things.

I’ve cooked this inside the turkey, in a casserole dish, in the crock pot, and in a dutch oven at a campout. It’s always AWESOME! You can find both versions – the original and vegetarian – below.

Original Stuffing

Servings: 10

Ingredients

  • 6 cups pre-packaged, seasoned stuffing mix
  • 1 pound ground flavored pork (sage, maple, or honey-maple – I prefer the Jimmy Dean’s Maple)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dried sage*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary*
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme*
  • 1 large or 2 small/medium Granny Smith (or other tart cooking) apples, cored and chopped (I use 2 large apples just because…)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (Craisins) or 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1 small can chicken or turkey stock**
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 stick butter, melted (unsalted if you have it, but go with what you have)

* If you use fresh herbs, double the amounts.
** If you plan on baking this outside the turkey, have additional stock available for use.

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, cook the sausage and onions over medium heat, stirring and breaking up the lumps until evenly browned. Do not drain!
  2. Add the celery, sage, rosemary, and thyme; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes to blend flavors. Turn heat off. Stir in maple syrup.
  3. Place pre-packaged stuffing cubes in large bowl*. Pour sausage mixture over. Mix in fresh and dried fruits, and parsley.
  4. Drizzle with chicken/turkey stock and melted butter, and mix lightly.
  5. Spoon into turkey to loosely fill or bake in casserole dish  in 350 degree F (175 degree C) until top is browned.

NOTE: This can be mixed and baked in a casserole dish or baking pan on the side in the oven, or cooked in a crock-pot on high for two hours. In either scenario, add additional stock partway through cooking if it seems on the dry side. The top will NOT brown in the crock pot.

VEGETARIAN Stuffing

Servings: 10

Simply omit the sausage, substitute vegetable broth, and add more fruits to make a vegetarian version. You can chop up vegetarian breakfast sausage patties or links if you want the texture and the additional protein. I also add additional fruits, including pineapple, for a little more flavor. As always, add, substitute, increase, or decrease ingredients to your preferences.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups pre-packaged, seasoned stuffing mix
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dried sage*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary*
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme*
  • 2 large Granny Smith (or other tart cooking) apples, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (Craisins) or 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 can pineapple tidbits, drained (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates (optional)
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 2 small cans or 1 box vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 3 TBS of your preferred cooking oil
  • 1 stick butter, melted (unsalted if you have it)
    (Vegans: not sure what you might use instead – could be omitted, but add more vegetable stock to compensate for moisture)
  • 2 cups chopped vegetarian “sausage” protein such as Morningstar Maple Flavored Veggie Sausage Patties (optional)

* If you use fresh herbs, double the amounts.
** Have additional stock available in case your stuffing is too dry.

Directions

  1. In a large non-stick skillet, saute the breakfast sausage (if used) and onions in the cooking oil over medium heat, stirring until onions are translucent. Do not drain!
  2. Add the celery, sage, rosemary, and thyme; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes to blend flavors. Turn heat off. Add maple syrup.
  3. Place pre-packaged stuffing cubes in large bowl*. Pour sausage mixture over. Mix in fresh and dried fruits, and parsley.
  4. Drizzle with vegetable stock and melted butter (if used), and mix lightly.
  5. * Spoon into turkey to loosely fill or bake in casserole dish  in 350 degree F (175 degree C) until top is browned.

NOTE: This can be mixed and baked in a casserole dish or baking pan on the side in the oven, or cooked in a crock-pot on high for two hours. In either scenario, add additional stock partway through cooking if it seems on the dry side. The top will NOT brown in the crock pot.

Comments from the Allrecipies.com site

I wanted to share some of the comments from the original recipe that inspired my version. Be creative and make it your own based on your family’s preferences!

  • “This Thanksgiving stuffing is very flavorful and fresh-tasting. This recipe will stuff a 10-pound turkey plus extra. We use a bit less sausage than the original recipe called for. I’ve also increased the whole wheat bread and decreased the white bread to increase the fiber. I took out  the turkey liver to reduce the cholesterol, and I cut the butter in half, increasing the turkey stock to compensate.”
  • I did add about two tbsp of honey to account for that. I also used flavored chicken sausage (since I don’t eat pork), which also turned out to be quite tasty.
  • I used 1/2 ‘bag’ of the pre-cubed, dried bread but didn’t use its included seasoning. I used JimmyDean’s low fat Regular sausage. For the ‘wet ingredients’, I used 1 can lower sodium chicken broth, a beaten egg, a spash of Mrs. Buttersworth & the melted REAL butter.
  • For seasoning, I just used some poultry seasoning. And of course, I didn’t forget the dried cranberries! Baked in stoneware bowl at 350º until it was obviously ‘done’ and nicely browned & crusty on top.
  • OH MY GAWD!!! This was AWESOME!!! It is now my official ‘Thanksgiving Stuffing’, and will serve it for years to come. The sausage added some spicyness, and the cranberries added a unique sweetness. I used Bob Evans Sage sausage, Ocean Spray Dried Sweetened Cranberries, and chicken stock. My hubby thought it sounded gross, but then couldn’t get enough of it! I did not cook mine in the bird (I slice the bird before bringing it to the table), so moisture would have been a problem. I just added more broth…can’t recall how much…maybe an extra small can.
  • This is completely worth the preparation time! I used 1/2 sage-flavored pork sausage and 1/2 reduced-fat pork sausage, reduced the sage, and added more broth for moisture. I’ll be making this again!
  • This recipe was truly “awesome” I made a few alterations to the recipe by using cubed sourdough bread and wheat bread and I also added chopped pecans. I did not stuff the turkey, but chose to bake the dressing in a casserole dish. It really was the best stuffing I have ever tasted!
  • For my first ever “I’m doing it all” Thanksgiving, I used this recipe and was blown away. My mom’s always done an onion/sage dressing (which I hate), but she raved about this, and took the leftovers home. I subbed honey maple pork sausage, dried cherries and craisins, and used extra canned chicken stock. I’m definitly doing this for Christmas again!!!
  • If I could give this a higher rating than a 5 I would. This was the huge hit at Thanksgiving. Picky eaters were impressed and came back for seconds and thirds. I substituted raisins for the dried cranberries and also i did not use the stuffing in a turkey. I cooked it in a crock pot on medium heat for 2 1/2 hours and it came out perfect. I have already had requests for the recipe. Thanks!
  • I added a little more butter and substituted chicken broth for the turkey stock. It was fantastic!
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