RECIPES:
Nov 12, 2021

Sausage Stuffing with Kale and Fennel

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Try this sausage stuffing recipe for a flavorful twist on a classic.

jump toRECIPE

This Thanksgiving stuffing or “dressing” recipe is made with sautéed sausage, fennel, onion, garlic, apples and kale for a twist on the traditional dish. The additions make for a side with amped up flavors. While stuffing generally refers to when the bread mixture is stuffed inside the turkey as it cooks, and dressing refers to it cooking in a separate dish, the terms are often used interchangeably. The bread casserole can be served alongside your favorite turkey recipe or my classic herb brined roast chicken recipe here or my smaller cider brined turkey breast for two

Sausage Stuffing with Kale and Fennel

Why Use Stale Bread? 

Bread that has been dried of most of its moisture will hold up when soaked in the broth and will keep some of its texture. Fresh bread will turn to complete mush. If using day-old or stale bread I recommend cutting the bread into cubes before it goes stale. 

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Italian bread – Stale, dried out bread is best for stuffing. I use a loaf of crusty Italian or French bread in this recipe. You can either cut the loaf of bread and dry it out in the oven or use day old bread. 
  • Sausage – I add sauteéd Italian sausage cut out of the casing to this twist on the classic Thanksgiving stuffing. Hot Italian sausage adds a bit of spice to the recipe though sweet sausage can also be used. 
  • Kale – The kale is added to the pan after the sausage is cooked until it’s wilted. I use curly kale in this recipe but it can also be swapped with Tuscan or dino kale or another green like spinach.
  • Fennel – Instead of the more traditional celery, I use diced fennel bulb to add a delicate licorice flavor to the stuffing which complements the fennel seed in the Italian sausage. The fronds of the fennel also make nice garnish when serving the stuffing.
  • Apple – Granny Smith apples are best for this recipe because they add a tart flavor and crisp texture that offsets the heaviness of the bread and complements the fennel. 
  • Chicken stock – The chicken stock works as a binder to hydrate the bread, keeping the stuffing moist without making it soggy. I use reduced-sodium chicken stock in this recipe in order to have more control over the salt in the stuffing. Salt can always be added but it can’t be taken away. The chicken stock can easily be substituted with turkey stock. 
Sausage Stuffing with Kale and Fennel

How to Make Sausage Stuffing with Kale and Fennel

  1. Dry out the bread. Heat oven to 300ºF. Spread out cubes of bread on a baking sheet and bake until the bread is crisp, about 15 minutes.
  2. Cook the onions and fennel. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the oil and heat through. Add the butter and allow it to melt. Next, add the shallots and fennel and sauté, stirring occasionally until the shallot is soft and translucent, about 6 minutes. Then add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about an additional 30 seconds.
  3. Cook the sausage. Next, add the sausage to the pan and break it up with a wooden spoon so it’s no longer in large pieces. Cook the sausage, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the kale (in batches if needed) and continue to cook until the kale has wilted, about an additional 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Toss the ingredients. Remove all ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Add the apple and lemon zest then toss with your hands to combine. Pour chicken stock over the top, gently mixing once more.
  5. Add to a baking dish. Season with salt and pepper then spread out evenly in a 3½ quart or 9” x 11” baking dish.
  6. Bake the stuffing. Increase the oven heat to 375ºF. Bake until browned on top, about 25 minutes. Garnish with fennel fronds and serve.
Thanksgiving Sausage Stuffing with Kale and Fennel

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe 

  • To make holiday prep easier, the strata mixture can be assembled a day ahead of time, then covered and refrigerated until baking.
  • The fennel can be swapped with celery for a more traditional stuffing recipe. 
  • For added spice, add ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper to the stuffing. 
  • If you prefer more of a crisp stuffing, spread it out on a baking sheet instead of using a baking dish so there is more surface area to crisp without drying it out.
  • The kale can be swapped with another sautéed or blanched green like spinach in this recipe.
Thanksgiving Sausage Stuffing Recipe

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Sausage Stuffing with Kale and Fennel

Thanksgiving Sausage Stuffing Recipe
Print Pin
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Serves 9

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf crusty Italian bread, cut into 1” cubes (about 10 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced, save fronds for garnishing
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 cups chopped curly kale, stems removed
  • 1 medium Granny Smith apple, cored and diced
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • cups chicken stock
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

Instructions:

  • Heat oven to 300ºF. Spread out cubes of bread on a baking sheet and bake until the bread is crisp, about 15 minutes.
  • Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the oil and heat through. Add the butter and allow it to melt. Add the shallots and fennel and sauté, stirring occasionally until the onion is soft and translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about an additional 30 seconds.
  • Next, add the sausage to the pan and break it up with a wooden spoon so it’s no longer in large pieces. Cook the sausage, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the kale (in batches if needed) and continue to cook until the kale has wilted, about an additional 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Remove all ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Add the apple and lemon zest then toss with your hands to combine. Pour chicken stock over the top, gently mixing once more.
  • Season with salt and pepper then spread out evenly in a 3½ quart or 9” x 11” baking dish.
  • Increase the oven heat to 375ºF. Bake until browned on top, about 25 minutes. Garnish with fennel fronds and serve.

DID YOU MAKE THIS?

TAG ME ON INSTAGRAM TO BE FEATURED ON MY STORIES! @cookingwithcocktailrings

Rate + Review

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THIS RECIPE?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating