Martha Stewart Living (November 2011)
Let's face it. "Prune" can be kind of an ugly word.
"Stewed prunes"? Doubly ugly.
But we unabashedly love them as a snack or thrown into dishes.
And we doubly love them in this Prune and Sausage Stuffing.
We're suckers for a stuffing that incorporates ground sausage. This is the third we've featured on the blog in as many years. And all three have also featured dried fruit (first golden raisins, then dried cherries). So yes, it seems we have a type. (Don't worry! We have non-sausage, non-dried fruit stuffing coming up later this week.)
While this recipe is listed as "Prune and Sausage Stuffing," that title leaves out one of the things we liked best about the dish: kale.
Two bunches of leafy greens are chopped, sautéed, and then incorporated into the stuffing mixture before baking. In the finished product, these greens give a nice added texture to the stuffing (and give you the feeling you're eating something healthier!).
The kale, paired with the sweet Italian sausage and the prunes that have been plumped (don't you dare say "stewed"...) with chicken stock make for a wonderfully flavorful stuffing that we would proudly serve again.
This stuffing was a huge hit at our Fakesgiving. Everyone unanimously raved about it, and there was hardly any left at the end of the evening.
If you fear upturned noses by potential prune-haters at your Thanksgiving table, we suggest you just engage in some clever rebranding.
Sample line: "Would anyone like seconds of the 'Country Stuffing with Sausage, Dried Plums and Kale'"?
Active Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
1 loaf (2 pounds) day-old country bread, crust removed and bread torn into 1-inch cubes
4 cups chicken stock
12 ounces prunes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
2 bunches hearty leafy greens, such as kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped (about 8 cups)
2 pounds sweet Italian sausage, casings removed, crumbled
5 celery stalks, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2 onions, chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon thyme
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Bake bread on a baking sheet ina single layer until dried but not browned, about 15 minutes. Remove bread and let cool. Raise oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Bring stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add prunes and let soak for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook greens until tender, about 10 minutes, and transfer to a plate. Let cool. Wipe out skillet.
Heat remaining tablespoon oil in skillet over medium heat. Brown sausage, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through and no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl using a slotted spoon. Add more oil to skillet if needed and cook celery, carrots, and onions until tender, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Drain prunes, reserving poaching liquid. Add prunes, bread, greens, and vegetable mixture to bowl with sausage. Gradually add reserved poaching liquid (about 2 1/2 cups), stirring to combine. Stir in parsley and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide stuffing between two 9-by-13 inch baking dishes. Dot tops with butter. Bake until browned, about 45 minutes.
Stuffing can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat, covered, in a low-temperature oven.