Figs are the new “it” food, and they’re not just for snacking. Rumor has it that fig trees, a relative of the ficus, grow on the Front Range. This recipe, from The Staub Cookbook, incorporates these delightful little fruits into stuffing. Made with Italian sausage, it would bring a Neapolitan flair to your Thanksgiving feast.
Italian cuisine is centered around using a few high-quality ingredients really, really well. That is the inspiration behind this stuffing, in which Italian sausage and dried figs play off each other in salty-sweet harmony. This could be part of a holiday menu that goes beyond the usual suspects. Or, why not make this as a weeknight side when you want to use up leftover bread?
Italian Sausage and Fig Stuffing
Makes 6 to 8 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces Italian sausage, casings removed
1 onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup brandy
6 ounces dried figs, cut in half
2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish
1 pound crusty bread, such as ciabatta or French bread, crusts removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
¼ cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a medium cast-iron roasting pan or braiser, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring to break it apart, 5 to 7 minutes, until cooked through. Place the sausage in a large bowl. Add the onion, celery, and a large pinch of salt and pepper to the roasting pan and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the onion is translucent and the celery is softened. Deglaze the pan with the brandy and add the figs and stock. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the figs are rehydrated. Stir in the thyme.
Add the bread to the bowl with the sausage, then carefully fold in the fig and vegetable mixture using a large spoon or spatula. Return the bread and sausage mixture to the roasting pan, drizzle with the cream, and top with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Cover the roasting pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the stuffing is browned on top. Remove from the oven, serve.