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Good-Enough-For-Thanksgiving Sausage-Cranberry Stuffing
Around Thanksgiving time, I tend to get inundated with fan letters asking if I have a recipe for low-carb stufﬁng. My response is always the same: my idea of low-carb stufﬁng is eating plenty of turkey, plenty of salad, coleslaw, or other healthy, low-carb sides, then eating just a little bit of stufﬁng made with real bread. Here, I lower the carbs even further by adding plenty of homemade sausage, and I help ﬁll you up by using wheat bread instead of white. Just be sure to pick a ﬂuffy wheat bread, not a grainy one. Though this stufﬁng is amazing made according to the recipe, I do actually put it in the turkey on Thanksgiving. When it’s baked in the turkey, I truly believe that it is better than any stufﬁng I’ve ever had. In fact, I’m so convinced, I served it to one of the producers of Seinfeld and his family when he hired me to cook his Thanksgiving dinner for the ﬁrst time in my early days of catering. He tipped me more than I’d ever been tipped before and his family kept raving. Note that I recommend lower-sodium (or reduced-sodium) chicken broth, not low-sodium. Made with truly low-sodium broth, this dish is not worth making. This stufﬁng can be made up to one day in advance. If you’re putting it in a turkey, do not stuff the turkey until just before you are ready to cook it.
Butter-ﬂavored cooking spray
12 slices whole-wheat bread (about 70 calories per slice)
Olive oil spray
1 recipe Sweet and Slim Italian Sausage (see recipe), uncooked and unshaped
1-1/2 cups ﬁnely chopped sweet onion
1 cup ﬁnely chopped celery
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon ﬁnely chopped fresh sage
1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups fat-free lower-sodium (not low-sodium) chicken broth, divided
2 tablespoons light butter, melted
1.Preheat the oven to 300°F. Lightly mist a 2-1/2 to 3-quart ovenproof ceramic or glass casserole dish with butter-ﬂavored cooking spray.
2.Place the slices of bread side by side in a single layer (they should not overlap) on a large nonstick baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 14 to 16 minutes per side, until the slices are dry (not at all soft in the center), but not more than very lightly browned.
3.Meanwhile, place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, lightly mist it with olive oil spray and put in the sausage mixture. Cook, breaking the sausage into bite-sized chunks, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a large mixing bowl.
4.Turn the heat to medium, respray the pan, and put in the onions. Cook for 5 minutes, and then add the celery and garlic. Continue cooking until the celery is bright green and starts to soften slightly, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the celery mixture to the sausage.
5.Increase the oven temperature to 350°F.
6.When the bread is cooled enough to touch, cut each slice into 9 squares.
7.Add the bread, cranberries, and sage to the sausage mixture and stir until well combined. Drizzle 1 cup broth slowly over the top and stir it in until the liquid is absorbed. Slowly drizzle the butter over the top and stir that in.
8.Transfer the stufﬁng to the prepared casserole dish. Drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup broth for a drier stufﬁng or 1/2 cup for a moister stufﬁng over the top. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the bread is golden brown and the stufﬁng is hot throughout. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes.
MAKES ABOUT 7 CUPS; 10 SERVINGS
Each serving (heaping 2/3 cup) has: 205 calories, 15 g protein, 29 g carbohydrates, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 32 mg cholesterol, 4 g ﬁber, 538 mg sodium
You save: 309 calories, 34 g fat, 7 g saturated fat
Traditional serving: 514 calories, 16 g protein, 27 g carbohydrates, 38 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 56 mg cholesterol, 2 g ﬁber, 924 mg sodium