Recipe: Slow Cooker Sausage Bread Stuffing

Your oven is full of a ham or turkey for the holidays, and you still need to get sides on the table, like stuffing for instance. Well, stress out no more. Stuffing in the slow cooker is a great option. The slow cooker keeps things moist and cooking with little effort from you...after all, you have other things to worry about, right? Best of all, it doesn't need your already crowded oven. Fluff the stuffing before serving with a fork. Try not to over stir it as it cooks, or you will break up the bread to the point of mush. We use the turkey organs and neck as a base for the stuffing flavor, but you don't have to. You can just start the recipe at browning the sausage if you wish. You can also make this recipe vegetarian by skipping all the meat and just using vegetable broth instead. You need a very large bowl for mixing this puppy, and have no fear of fitting all the bread into your slow cooker. Once the liquid is added, the bread shrinks down, and you can press everything into the cooker. I almost did not believe it myself, but it did!

Slow Cooker Sausage Bread Stuffing

2 Tbsp. olive oil
Reserved turkey giblets, organs and neck (washed and patted dry)
1 lb. mild breakfast sausage roll
1 stick butter
2 medium chopped onions
2 cups chopped celery
1 lb. fresh sliced mushrooms
12 1/2 cups white bread (about 2 lbs.), chopped into 1 inch cubes and dried out or stale*
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1 tsp. crumpled dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
3 cups chicken broth
2 large eggs, slightly beaten

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Chop up the Turkey liver into bite sized pieces, but keep the other organ meat whole so you can easily pull it out. Add the neck, liver and organ meat to the pan and cook until brown. Discard all from the pan except for the liver (if you wish).** Add the sausage to the liver and brown, breaking the sausage up with the back of your spoon. When done, empty into a very large bowl. Add the bread cubes into the bowl and toss, set aside. In the same skillet, add the butter and melt over medium heat. Add the onions, celery and mushrooms. Cook until soft, about 15 minutes. Add to the bread mixture and toss. Add all the seasoning, and toss again. In a mixing cup add the broth and the egg, and whisk lightly with a fork. Add to the bread mixture slowly, tossing as you go. The mixture will begin to shrink down. Liberally coat the crock pot with butter. 

Pack the slow cooker with the stuffing, gently pressing it in to fit. Cover. Cook on "high" for 1 hour. Lower to "low", cook until puffy and brown around the edges. Toss with a fork once in awhile so things don't get soggy on the bottom, but do not over mix. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. Fluff with a fork again before serving. Can stay on "warm" up to 2-3 hours with the cover cracked open if it gets done before your turkey. Serve warm.

* I dry out the  bread in a 300˚ oven for 20 minutes or so, tossing the cubes around so they dry out evenly.
** If you are roasting a turkey, feel free to add the removed  neck and organs to the bottom of your roasting pan. They add excellent flavor for gravy, and you may have guests like my mother who just want the neck for dinner, period. I know...Italians.



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