THANKSGIVING BASICS--CHARLIE'S PRUNE AND SAUSAGE STUFFING


THANKSGIVING BASICS--CHARLIE'S PRUNE AND SAUSAGE STUFFING


This is Charlie's sausage and prune stuffing, which I have whole-heartedly adopted as my own.  The prunes and wine offer much-needed acid to balance out the sweetness of the vegetables, and everything else on the Thanksgiving table.

This stuffing is SO GOOD when fried up the next day, served with a poached egg for breakfast.  Total heaven.

Ingredients

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 Tuscan 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 chopped fresh thyme

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

directions
Preheat oven to 250°F. Bake bread on a baking sheet in a single layer until dried but not browned, about 15 minutes. Remove bread, and let cool. Raise oven temperature to 350°F.

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, seasoning with salt as you go, 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) and wine, stirring to combine. Stir in parsley, sage and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.  The mixture should be really juicy, salty, and balanced with the acid from the wine.

Divide stuffing between two buttered  9-by-13-inch baking dishes. Dot tops with butter. Bake until browned, about 45 minutes.