Monday, November 19, 2012

Fresh Sage Stuffing: A Twist on Tradition Thanksgiving Menu

Sage is commonly used in herbal remedies and is known for its healing properties. This healthful herb also tastes and smells wonderful — almost piney — and adds a fantastic seasonal flavor to holiday recipes.

I started growing sage in a container on my deck several years ago. I later transplanted it into my garden, and it’s now a sage bush that has thrived year after year with almost no maintenance!

A few years back, I was planning to make a chicken dinner and wanted to include stuffing. I almost always have fresh sage, and so I searched through Storey’s Country Wisdom Bulletin Growing & Using Sage (now out of print, but available as an e-book) and found a recipe for Fresh Sage Chicken Stuffing.

The recipe was good but needed a few adjustments. Over the years, I have altered it a little at a time, even creating a vegetarian variation. Below is my version of the recipe, which includes a few ingredients that weren’t in the original.

Fresh Sage Stuffing


Since you may have fresh sage leaves even in late November, this is a good recipe to make for Thanksgiving. If you are planning to stuff a turkey with this dressing, you should double the recipe.

1 loaf of slightly stale bread, any kind (ciabatta is wonderful)
4 tablespoons butter (use more if needed)
½ cup chopped onion
⅓ cup chopped celery
¼ cup chopped hot peppers (optional — adds a spicy kick)
½ cup chopped kale (optional — adds color, flavor, and nutrients)
1 14-oz can of vegetable broth (or chicken broth, if you don’t need vegetarian stuffing)
4 tablespoons fresh common sage, chopped, or 2 tablespoons dried
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (also consider basil, oregano, thyme, or rosemary)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Cube the bread or break it into small pieces with your hands.
  2. In a skillet, melt butter and sauté the onion and celery (and hot peppers and kale, if using) 3-5 minutes, or until just soft. Add 2 tablespoons of broth, and cook 1-2 minutes longer.
  3. Add the sage and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Directions for Cooking Stuffing in a Baking Dish
  1. Follow Directions above.
  2. Heat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish.
  3. Put the bread cubes into a bowl and pour the sautéed mixture over it. With a spatula or spoon, mix until well combined. 
  4. Slowly add the broth and mix well as you go. All of the broth may not be needed, so pay close attention — the bread should be moist, but not saturated. 
  5. Blend again, adding pepper to taste.
  6. Pack stuffing into the casserole dish, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Remove foil and bake for 10-15 minutes longer, until top is golden and slightly crisp.
Directions for Cooking Stuffing in a Turkey or Chicken
  1. Follow Directions above.
  2. Heat the oven according to directions for cooking your chicken or turkey.
  3. Put the bread cubes into a bowl and pour the sautéed mixture over it. With a spatula or spoon, mix until well combined. 
  4. Add a few tablespoons of broth (you don’t need much; the stuffing will be moistened with the juices from the bird).  
  5. Blend again, adding pepper to taste.
  6. Place stuffing into the chicken or turkey and bake. When the bird is done, insert an instant-read thermometer into the center of the stuffing. If it has not reached 165°F, transfer the stuffing to a baking dish and bake until it reaches 165°F.
Note: If you have extra stuffing, you can bake it separately (see Directions for Cooking Stuffing in a Baking Dish, above) or freeze it for later use.

Excerpted and adapted from Growing & Using Sage by Patti Barrett, © Storey Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

Go to: A Twist on Tradition Thanksgiving Menu for more great Thanksgiving recipes.

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