Friday, November 20, 2009

Crazy Good Crock Pot Stuffing

This is what results from having to drive 5 hours away for Thanksgiving dinner with the family, not having a working oven at home, no oven-space available at our destination, and yet... still wanting to bring something homemade towards the meal. Sometimes great things are born of these situations, sometimes disasters. This, thankfully was one of the great things.

I did all the prep the night before we left, bagged it all up according to dry, wet, refrigerated, etc. In the morning we packed it all in the cooler with ice packs, chucked the crockpot in the back of the car and hit the road.

Stuffing saves the day!
As it turned out, we didn't arrive in time to heat the stuffing up before dinner. But before you get all weepy and dejected (like I did at first), there was another stuffing already there (yes, I think they were just humoring me) so our Thanksgiving was not stuffing-less. The important thing to note here though was that there was none of that other stuffing left at the end of the day. (Can you see where this is going yet?)

...I cooked up my well-traveled crockpot stuffing the day after Thanksgiving and there was enough to keep up with all the other leftovers for the next three days!

Crazy Good Crock Pot Stuffing
Adapted from: Perfect Homemade Stuffing Crockpot Recipe on A Year Of Slowcooking blog; and from another recipe I found on my frantic Google search but can't locate anymore*; and also from various stuffings made over the years by the fabulous women in my family.

Ingredients
1 loaf of bread, lightly toasted in the oven
1 lb. Italian sausage
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup green apple, peeled and diced
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth (plus 1/4 cup, if needed later)
1 T ground sage
1 tsp ground marjoram
1/2 tsp savory
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Directions
Use a 6 quart crockpot. If yours is smaller, toss everything together in a large mixing bowl, then put into your crockpot later when it's time to cook.

Toast the bread slices in the oven at 300 degrees 15 - 30 minutes, checking often. (I didn't have an oven, so I had to toast the whole loaf in my toaster, 4 slices at a time. (I do not recommend this method except in cases of extreme emergency.)

While the bread is toasting, chop up the onion, parsley, celery, apple and dried apricots. Add parsley, celery apple and apricots to the bowl or crockpot.

Crumble the sausage and brown on the stove. Remove meat from pan and pour off any excess fat. Saute the onion in the same pan just until it starts to show color.

Add sausage and onion, seasonings, and melted butter to bowl or crockpot. Stir well.

When the bread is done, cut into 1/2 inch size-or-so cubes. Add to the bowl/crockpot. Toss it all together thoroughly. Now is the time to transfer the mixture into the crockpot if you've been using a large bowl up to this point. When the bread is coated nicely, pour in 1 1/2 cups of broth. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours.

When done, the bread will have browned a little on the top and around the edges, and it will be hot throughout. It can stay on warm for another 2 hours, if needed. Stir before serving. If you'd like it a bit more moist, you can add a 1/4 cup more or so of broth.

My Notes (Thanksgiving 2008): In the original recipe there was a bit about starting the day before and combining everything on the day of. That was what really sold me on trying this.  Everybody loved it and it was completely devoured. The sausage was plenty spicy, and I think I may use "mild" next time or a combination of the two.

*Oh, I know I've got it somewhere. This is why I started this blog... to put all this stuff in one place!
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