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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. | Sausage dressing with cranberries, apples and almonds

November 6, 2013
the83kthanksgiving
Here’s what I’ve learned in the last few weeks, folks:
PIE IS HARD.
Honestly. I thought I’d be able to master, in a week, what generations of cooks spend LIFETIMES perfecting. NO SWEAT, right?
Thankfully, I now have THIS. Paula signed it and everything. We’ll give it another go as the holidays approach.
In the meantime…
The best part of Thanksgiving.

The best part of Thanksgiving.

Anyone who says stuffing isn’t the best part of Thanksgiving is lying to you or themselves. And at The83k, we’ll be tackling this, as well as many, many other Thanksgiving dishes in the weeks to come. We’ll be sending you traditional stuff, like this sausage stuffing with cranberries, apples and almonds, as well as different sauces and relishes for your table (kimchi-cranberry slaw, for instance) and variations on classics (CLASSY White Castle stuffing, bacon basket potatoes, vegetarian- and vegan-friendly sides and WHOOPIE PIE.)

And some very special turkey and main course recipes to impress/annoy your in-laws.

But for now, let’s get started!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1.5-to-2-pound loaf sourdough bread, bread cut into 3/4 to 1/2 cubes or chunks (if you can get the pre-sliced, pre-toasted stuff your local grocery’s bakery makes in-house, grab that. Just make sure it’s quality stuff.)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2.5 pounds bulk pork breakfast sausage (get the good stuff in the case and cut the casings open yourself, if you can’t get bulk)
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 6 stalks chopped celery
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 6 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled apples (your choice on variety; granny smiths are good, though you’re good to go with just about any tart, sweet apple)
  • 6 ounces dried cranberries
  • 4 ounces sliced almonds
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 large eggs

Instructions:

If not using pre-toasted bread, position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Spread bread on 1 or 2 baking sheets and toast for 15-30 minutes. Open oven wide briefly every ten minutes to clear out moisture. Check on bread every few minutes after 10 or 15 to make sure bread doesn’t burn. Bread should be golden brown…ish. I mean, you know what you like, texture-wise, here. Remove toasted bread from oven and put it into a big-ass bowl.

Preheat large skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully toast fennel seeds, stirring often, until fragrant. Add sausage and sauté until cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Turn heat down and move sausage  from skillet to big-ass bowl with slotted spoon. Put your onions and celery into the hot pan with the drippings and sauté THAT – about 12 minutes. Dump everything into the bowl.

Melt two tablespoons of budder in the skillet and add apples. Sauté those suckers over medium-high heat for another 10, stirring often. Add all that goodness to your bowl (which now must smell amazing, right?) Add the almonds and cranberries at this point, as well.

Melt the remaining budder in that same skillet and, over that same medium-high heat, add the sage. Stir that around for 30 seconds, and then pour all that awesomeness over the stuff in the big bowl. Now get a pair of implements with some leverage (serving spoons, spatulas, gardening trowels, your own dough-pounders) and, while seasoning it with salt and pepper (and dukkah, if you’ve got it) mix it allllllll together. Awwwww yeah. Feels kinda wrong. And yet, so right.

You can put this in the fridge, covered, for a day. Or you can do what I’d do, and put the heat to it immediately. 🙂

Turn the oven down to 350° (or preheat, if you fridged the stuffing). Whisk the broth and eggs together and pour THAT over your bready, sausagey goodness. Using those same gardening trowels (or big spoons, whatever) combine everything well, and then pour your mixture into a big casserole dish, buttered – 10×15, if you didn’t leave it at your friend’s house after the last potluck, dummy. (NEVER LEAVE A PAN BEHIND.)

YOU CANNOT EAT THAT RAW EGG and PARTIALLY COOKED SAUSAGE AWESOMENESS YET. YOU MUST BAKE IT, UNCOVERED, FOR 45 MINUTES. AT LEAST. MAYBE AN HOUR. UNTIL IT IS TOASTY GOLDEN AND AMAZING-LOOKING. AND THEN YOU NEED TO LET IT STAND FOR A FEW MINUTES BEFORE SHOVELING IT INTO YOUR FACE. Not only will it taste better after sitting a bit, you will avoid lavamouth.*

Your annoying in-laws won’t say anything good about the stuffing. They’ll just quietly help themselves to multiple servings until they get into an argument over who should get the last spoonful. And really, isn’t THAT what Thanksgiving is about?

-Theo

*Seriously. If you’re making this for a regular dinner and not for a holiday meal, RELAX and go watch some Adventure Time. By the time one episode is over, the stuffing will be ready. And then you’ll have the second half to watch AND delicious stuffing to eat. Jake and Finn wouldn’t want it any other way. 

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