Thanksgiving Stuffing has always been my go to favorite during the Holiday Season, it's one of those must haves on everyone's table. In order to make this stuffing taste amazing you'll need to follow a few basic chef practices, like browning meats and de-glazing pans. Follow the simple steps below and you'll have amazing flavor and texture and it will taste just a wonderful as it's breaded predecessor! I prefer to use Organic produce and ingredients - but you may opt out of this at your discretion
1 Cup Uncooked Quinoa
2 Cups Fresh Homemade Turkey Broth (I used the neck bones and giblets from my turkey - to make a simple broth - you may use chicken broth as well)
1 lb uncased Italian Sausage (Your choice of sausage is fine here chicken will work well too!)
1 tsp Olive Oil (for sausage)
1 tbsp Olive Oil (for vegetable)
3-4 large stalks of celery diced
1/2 lb baby carrot diced or 1 large carrot diced
1 medium yellow onion diced
1/2 cup broth (same as above)
(You can add more vegetables - it is completely up to you, bell peppers are encouraged, diced garlic as well and shallots, go with flavors you love!)
1 tsp dried sage (if using fresh - 1 tbsp chopped) I like to rub the sage between my fingers before putting it in
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 cup dried cranberries - I used pomegranate juice sweetened organic
Salt & Pepper to taste
Cook the Quinoa! Put the Quinoa and Broth into a shallow pot. Bring to a boil then a low simmer for up to 25 minutes or until Quinoa has absorbed all the liquid. Remove from heat and set aside. (Quinoa can be cooked up to 48 hours before and stored in the refrigerator)
Heat up a deep skillet or large pot on medium heat. Once the pan has heated, add a teaspoon olive oil - it is important that you do not put your stove on high, medium high is okay - but remember that olive oil can burn at high temperatures. Add the sausage and let it cook at medium without messing with it (STEP AWAY FROM YOUR PAN!).
By following this Chef Step alone - you will increase the flavor of your stuffing by infinite percentages!
This is a very important step - you want to allow the sausage to brown and in some cases it might blacken just a bit - this is perfectly fine - and highly encouraged! Once you've allowed your sausage to fully brown, go ahead and break it up with a spoon and continue until the sausage is fully cooked all the way through. (This is the same process you will use for chicken sausages - only that you will cube the sausage prior to cooking). Pour sausage and grease into a colander and set aside to drain.
In the same skillet used above reheat to medium - add 1 tbsp Olive Oil and toss your onions into the pot. Again step away! Let the onions cook about 2-3 minutes, this will give you some nice crusty onion bits, go ahead and stir them up - add in all your vegetables and continue to cook them - take your time here, allow the veggies to get some color and their flavor enhances as they cook together on top that yummy sausage crust below it.
Add 1/2 cup stock to the cooked veggies and use your spoon / spatula to scrape the brown left at the bottom of your pot, this is a quick and easy step! Once you have de-glazed your pan - toss in your Quinoa and cranberries - heat thoroughly - add salt and pepper and taste - if you need more flavor add more salt and pepper - taste / repeat... Then serve!!
Adding Salt & Pepper at the end allows you to adjust the stuffing to your preference. Quinoa and Broth can be salty without your adding salt to it - so waiting til the end will allow you to make a really yummy dish - that is perfect for you and your families.
Sometimes - I take 2 large potatoes diced and fried in olive oil to add more texture to my stuffing - this version does not require the extra texture - as the Quinoa is not stale and soggy!