* 2 10-ounce packages breakfast sausage
* 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and in 1/2-inch dice (1 cup)
* 1 carrot in 1/4-inch dice ( 1/2 cup)
* 1 celery stalk in 1/4-inch dice ( 1/2 cup)
* 1 leek, white part only, washed and finely chopped ( 1/2 cup)
* 1 small onion, minced ( 1/2 cup)
* 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 teaspoons)
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
* 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
* 2 to 3 cups chicken broth
* 2 pounds crusty French bread, cubed and dried overnight
* 1 cup golden raisins, soaked in hot water and drained
* 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
* 1 tablespoon chopped sage
Place sausage in a large skillet over medium heat and cook until browned, turning frequently, 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and transfer sausage to paper-towel-lined plate. Reserve fat in pan. Cool sausage, then chop. Return pan to stove. Add fennel, carrot, celery, leek, onion and garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté over medium heat, stirring frequently, until vegetables are lightly caramelized, about 10 minutes.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place fennel seeds in a small skillet and toast over medium heat, tossing frequently, until fragrant and lightly colored, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs and 2 cups chicken broth together. Add bread and stir until coated evenly. Add sausage, sautéed vegetables, raisins, thyme, sage and fennel seeds. If bread cubes seem dry, add additional chicken broth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn into a 3-quart gratin dish and cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until stuffing is brown, about 10 minutes more.
6 - 8 servings