Stuffing is definitely one of our favorite components of the Thanksgiving feast and we recently discovered that baking the stuffing in muffins tins rather than inside the turkey or in one large casserole yields a lot more delectable surface crunch and looks pretty terrific on the dinner plate, to boot. This modern stuffing recipe breaks with tradition to highlight Coastal Goods top-selling Mediterranean blend of Sarah’s Sea Salt and combines toasted ciabatta bread cubes with sautéed onions, garlic, fennel, sweet Italian sausage, slivered artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, and surprise pockets of gooey melted smoked mozzarella cheese. Totally irresistible!
- 5 cups cubed (1/2-inch) ciabatta or other rustic white bread, crusts removed
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing over the muffin tins
- 1 medium-large onion, minced
- 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and minced (1 ½ cups)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from the casings
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 package (12 ounces) frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted and cut into ¼-inch-wide slivers
- 5 ounces oil-packed julienned sun-dried tomatoes, drained
- 1 to 1 ½ cups low-sodium turkey, chicken, or vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon Sarah’s Mediterranean Sea Salt blend
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- ½ pound smoked or fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
- 3 eggs, beaten
- Turkey drippings, optional
- Preheat the oven to 325 F. Spread the ciabatta cubes out in a single layer on 1 or 2 rimmed baking sheets and bake in the oven until lightly toasted, about 15 minutes. Let cool. Store in an airtight plastic bag until ready to use. (They will keep for up to 5 days.)
- Heat the butter and 3 tablespoons olive oil together in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and fennel and sauté until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the sausage, raise heat to medium-high, and continue cooking, breaking the sausage into small pieces with the back of a wooden spoon, until the sausage has lost all of its pink color and begun to turn brown and crispy, 8 to 10 minutes. Pour the wine into the skillet and deglaze by scraping up any browned bits clinging to the bottom of the pan. Add the artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes, tossing to combine evenly, and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove pan from heat and set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
- Place the toasted ciabatta cubes in a large mixing bowl. Add the slightly cooled contents from the skillet and mix everything together well. Moisten the mixture with enough stock to make the ingredients begin to bind loosely together. Season with Sarah’s Mediterranean Sea Salt Gently fold in the parsley and cubed mozzarella until evenly distributed. Add the beaten eggs and mix to bind all the ingredients more firmly together. The stuffing may be prepared up to this point and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before baking.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 F. Generously brush 18 standard-size muffin tins with olive oil. Fill the tins with stuffing mixture, pressing down to compact it lightly and then mounding a bit more stuffing on top to make a rounded muffin shape.
- Bake the stuffing muffins until puffed and crusty golden brown on top, 30 to 40 minutes. For extra flavor and richness a spoonful of the turkey drippings may be drizzled over the top of each stuffing muffin as it bakes – delicious but optional.
- Let the stuffing muffins stand for 5 minutes and then run a knife around the outer edges of each muffin and gently lift out of the tins. Place on individual dinner plates or arrange on a platter, garnished with fresh herbs. Serve hot or warm.
Makes 18 muffins