Sage & Sausage Stuffing With Dried Cherries

“Wait! What?”

“It is late January and you are publishing a stuffing recipe?”

Why yes, yes I am.

Number one; because I made it for Thanksgiving and it was a hoooge hit, and, number two, because I promised to publish my version of this barefoot contessa recipe for a friend and, I am just a wee, tiny bit behind the times.

Annnd; number three, stuffing is just too darned good to wait for the holidaze or use one of those box mixes.

Just consider this Thanksgiving plate: Champagne Braised Pearl Onions are at the top, followed by our fave Popeye’s Cajun Turkey (limited availability, I think, so check your local Popeye’s), then, it wouldn’t be the holidaze without Julia Child’s Cranberry Relish, and, tradition dictates, green bean casserole, then, finally (next to the pearl onions, this lovely stuffing!

A perfect gathering with friends and family, but then, consider this plate; Pressure Cooker Whole Chicken with White Wine Gravy, and, again, our stuffing.

It wasn’t a holiday, but in a couple of hours, I had a full holidaze worthy dinner, and leftovers to enjoy the next day (because there are only the two of us – for some friends and their families, this might not have made it through dinner without the kids asking for fourths).

So. All that said. Let’s make stuffing!

•1 bag packaged sage and herb stuffing mix
•8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
•1 lb spicy breakfast sausage
•2 cups medium-diced sweet onion
•1 cup medium-diced celery
•2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and large-diced
•2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
•1 tbsp Sherry peppers Sauce*
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
•1/2 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce, or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•2 cups unsalted chicken stock
•1 cup dried cherries

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Note: in the (several) times I’ve made this stuffing, I’ve noticed that when I neglected to have apples on hand to add, the stuffing, while still very good, tasted a might bit salty to me, so try to remember the apples.

Heat your oven to 350º, apply cooking spray to a large casserole dish – mine was a six pint round casserole, butt a 9×13 pan would work a treat as well.

Melt the butter (yes, the whole stick) in a large pan over medium heat, then add the sausage, onion, celery, apples, parsley, Sherry Peppers Sauce, Old Bay,  Seasoned Salt, black and Aleppo peppers, and the hot sauce. Cook, stirring and breaking up the sausage, until the sausage is cooked and the veggies are tender.

Note: I cook this until most – if not all of the pan liquids have evaporated, so, bonus!, no draining the pan, and, double boonus!, the flavors are nicely blended and (I think) a bit more intense.

Stir in the stock, the stuffing – do buy the decent bagged stuff, not one of those box mixes – and the dried cherries and stir until nicely mixed.

Transfer to the prepared casserole and bake, covered, for 30 minutes, until warmed through, then remove the cover and bake for another ten to fifteen minutes, until nicely browned on top and hot in the center.

Serve, and enjoy.

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