Maple Sausage Stuffing


I made this amazingly flavourful stuffing for Canadian Thankgiving back in October and my kids loved it.  In fact, my son had a few of his university varsity rugby team-mates visiting and this was the perfect side dish for very hungry, athletic boys!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lb. dense, chewy bread (I like sourdough), cut into 3/4 inch cubes (about 13 cups)

5 oz. (10 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup chopped fresh thyme leaves

1/3 cup chopped fresh sage leaves

3/4 tsp maple seasoning

3 cups medium-diced yellow onion (2 medium)

3 cups medium-diced celery (6 large stalks)

7 1/2 cups chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1 smoked ham hock (about 1 lb.)

1 lb. bulk pork breakfast sausage

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Kosher salt

Instructions:

- lay bread cubes in a single layer on two baking sheets.  Leave out to dry completely at room temperature, tossing a few times, for about 2 days

- position a rack in the centre of the oven and heat to 375°F

- in an 8 qt. stockpot or Dutch oven, melt 5 Tbsp. of the butter over medium heat until it begins to foam.  Stir in thyme, sage, maple seasoning and cook to coat the herbs and season the butter, about 45 seconds. Stir in the onions and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, about 15 minutes.  Add chicken broth, bay leaves and ham hock and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until liquid reduces by a third, about 30 minutes.

- meanwhile, put the sausage on a baking sheet and break it into quarter-size chunks. Roast until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Let cool, and chop the sausage into smaller pieces.
- add sausage to the broth and simmer to allow the flavours to meld, about 5 minutes. Remove the ham hock and bay leaves.  Discard the bay leaves and set aside the ham to cool. Stir the dried bread, several cups at a time, into the broth until all the broth is absorbed and the bread cubes are well moistened. Stir in the maple syrup, pepper, and remaining 5 Tbsp. butter.
- when the ham hock is cool enough to handle, pick off the meat, chop into small pieces, and add to the stuffing. Season to taste with salt if necessary.
- transfer the stuffing to a 9x13 baking dish and bake uncovered at 375°F until heated through and crisp on top, about 20 minutes.  If made ahead, cook 30 minutes.
Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

 


Dori Ross

Author