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Kick off the holidays with this tasty version of the classic Thanksgiving side from the author of Kitchen Matters Pamela Salzman.
The entire thing can be prepared up to the point of baking and then frozen for up to 3 months in advance—thaw in the refrigerator 24 hours before baking, and remove the unbaked stuffing from the refrigerator 30 to 60 minutes prior to baking.
Pamela likes to use a combination of crumbs and diced bread in this recipe, and also says that you can bake the stuffing in a greased 12-cup muffin tin.
Pro Tip: If using unsalted stock, up the salt content to 2½ teaspoons.
Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Place bread in a food processor and process into large crumbs or cut into ½-inch dice; you should have 12 cups. Spread bread over 2 large shallow baking pans and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, stirring occasionally and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until completely dry, about 25 minutes. Transfer bread to a large bowl.
Increase oven temperature to 450˚F and grease a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with olive oil.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, breaking up meat into small bits, until browned and cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon.
To the same pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter and add celery, fennel, onion and apple, and cook, stirring occasionally until onions are tender and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add white wine and deglaze pan by scraping the bottom with a wooden utensil and cook until wine has evaporated. Stir in thyme, sage, salt and pepper.
Add vegetable mixture and reserved sausage to bread crumbs and/or cubes, tossing to combine. Pour chicken broth over the bread mixture, tossing to coat evenly.
Spread stuffing in the prepared baking dish, dot with remaining butter and cover tightly with foil. Bake in upper third of oven until heated through, about 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake stuffing until top is browned, 10 to 15 minutes more.