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Thanksgiving is EASY Part 3: Stuffing and the Trimmings

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OK, maybe I lied about the mashed potatoes. What I love most is the stuffing. Man, it's like Sophie's Choice trying to decide. I don't see any reason to deal with the hassle of making cornbread just to use in stuffing. But straight out of the box is boring. My mom has always used ground pork sausage in hers and it is killer. Ask the guy at the meat counter.

We are also going to need a little gravy and cranberry sauce to round things out. Make the stuffing and the cranberry sauce Wednesday, then make the gravy while the turkey rests. Gravy also seems to freak a lot of people out. But again, the pitfalls that have given it its bad reputation are easy to fix.

So let's go!

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Shopping List:

1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground pork sausage
1 bunch celery
1 (6-ounce) box cornbread stuffing mix
2 cups crumbled dried bread or breadcrumbs
1 bag fresh cranberries (2 cups)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen strawberries
Dried sage

(You should already have onions, garlic, chicken broth, salt and pepper)


1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground pork sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 (6-ounce) box cornbread stuffing mix
2 cups crumbled dried bread or breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons dried sage
Chicken broth

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large saucepan, brown sausage with onions, garlic and celery over a medium flame. Drain off excess grease.

Remove from heat and let cool a little. Transfer meat to a large bowl. Stir in stuffing mix, dried bread, pepper and sage. I don't add salt because the sausage is pretty salty, but I tend to undersalt my food.

Stir in just enough hot chicken broth to make everything damp, one to two cups. Put into a deep greased casserole dish (around 1 1/2 to 2 quart size).

Bake for 1 hour covered with foil, then 15 minutes uncovered. To reheat, sprinkle the top with turkey pan drippings before putting in oven (275 - 300 degrees).

(Shortcut: Use 2 boxes stuffing mix instead of adding the dried bread. Omit sausage.) The photographer of the photo above used chorizo instead of pork sausage. Then I would probably substitute oregano for the sage

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2/3 cup of dripping from the pan
About 3 Tablespoons flour until smooth
about 2 cups liquid
Salt and pepper to taste

Spoon out about 2/3 cup of pan drippings aka grease. Gradually whisk in about 3 tablespoons of flour until you have a smooth paste (or when it starts clumping in a ball, stop adding flour).

Remember that chicken broth we set aside when we made the green beans? We need it now. If you forgot, use the water from boiling the potatoes. No? OK, just use plain broth or water. Gradually whisk in about 2 cups of liquid, a little at a time, until it looks like gravy. Salt an pepper to taste.

Oh no! Did you end up with lumpy gravy? The humiliation! Run the gravy through a fine sieve (mesh strainer). Voila! Fixed!

(Shortcut: Envelope McCormick's Turkey Gravy or a carton of Pacific Natural Foods gravy)


2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 (10-ounce) package frozen strawberries

Combine cranberries, sugar and water in a (1 to 2-quart) ovenproof glass dish (OK, Pyrex. We all know that means Pyrex). Microwave on low power (defrost) uncovered, stirring once or twice, until a few cranberries have burst.

Immediately add strawberries. The heat from the cranberries will melt the strawberries. Stir occasionally until well-mixed and refrigerate.

(Shortcut: Canned. To fool people, buy canned "whole" cranberries and mix in a little orange zest, maybe a litle brandy. Or a few frozen strawberries)

See, we're almost there. This is not so hard, is it? We can do this!

Photo by Special Dark via Flickr