The finished product! Perfectly browned and crisp on top. Soft, seasoned and bites of sweet apple and red pepper on the inside. One serving is never enough at our Thanksgiving!
1 loaf Guiltless Sandwich Bread (approx. 8 cups)
1lb turkey breakfast sausage, removed from casing
3 tablespoons butter
3 stalks of celery (approx. 1 cup)
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 fennel, chopped (reserve fronds for garnish, optional)
1 large yellow sweet onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
2 small to medium green apples, chopped (approx. 2 cups)
8 oz fresh cranberries (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, chopped (approx. 3 leaves)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups organic chicken broth (divided)
3 organic eggs
Cut the Guiltless Sandwich Bread into 1 inch cubes and divide between two rimmed baking sheets. Bake the bread for 20 minutes, toss, rotate the pans so each bakes evenly, and bake for another 20 minutes until mostly browned.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter and then add in the sausage and brown it, breaking up with a wooden spoon. Once browned, transfer the cooked meat to a large mixing bowl.
Reduce the heat to medium and melt 1 more tablespoon of butter, scraping up any remaining sausage bits. Add celery, garlic, fennel (reserve fronds) and onion to the skillet and cook until the fennel is tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer the vegetable mixture to the mixing bowl with the cooked sausage.
Melt the final tablespoon of butter in the same skillet. Add red pepper, apples, and cranberries (optional) and increase heat to medium-high. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until apples become tender (and cranberries will start to wilt if using cranberries). Remove pan from heat and transfer apple mixture to the large mixing bowl with the rest of the ingredients.
Add the herbs: sage, thyme, dried oregano, salt, pepper, baked bread cubes and 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth to the large mixing bowl. Toss to combine and let sit for 10 minutes.
Increase oven heat to 400 degrees and butter an extra large oven-safe baking dish.
Add remaining 1/2 cup of broth and toss to combine. Bread will be moist but not soggy.
Beat eggs in a small bowl before pouring into the large mixing bowl. Toss until everything is coated, then transfer stuffing to the baking dish.
Bake for 35 minutes uncovered, the top will be golden and crisp on top. Then cover with a sheet of parchment paper laid on top of the dish, and bake for 10 more minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool slightly for a few minutes. Top with chopped fennel fronds (optional) and serve.