Since the beginning of the holiday season is upon I wanted to share this recipes before everyone makes their Thanksgiving day menus. This stuffing is amazing and basically could be the only side you need on Turkey day because it is loaded with all the traditional Thanksgiving foods. The apples and cranberries give it a sweet tart flavor while the multi-grain bread and fresh sage make it earthy. It is moist while still being able to have a nice crunch from the toasted bread. Our past Thanksgivings we have always served Stove Top, one made with sausage and one plain but if meat in your stuffing is not for you, you can always just leave it out. If you are still using Stove Top Stuffing for Thanksgiving I urge you to try making a homemade version instead. I actually made this stuffing for last years Thanksgiving and it was the 1st time we didn't have Stove Top at our table. I promise you, your family will love it and you will never go back to the carton or the boxed stuff.
Thanksgiving happens to be my favorite holiday and it bothers me that the American people have no problem skipping right over it and concentrating on Christmas. I proudly took out our turkey decorations yesterday and will keep celebrating Thanksgiving and autumn until December 1st!!
6 Medium Braeburn or Macoun Apples - Peeled & Cubed
12 Slices 12 grain bread - Cut into 1/2 in cubes
1 lb Sweet Italian Sausage - Casings removed & crumbled
3 Leeks - Halved & Thinly Sliced
6 Celery Stalks - Diced
1 1/2 Cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth
10 Fresh Sage Leaves
1 1/2 Stick Unsalted Butter
1 Tbsp Honey
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tbsp Thyme
1 Tbsp Rosemary
Adapted from Food Network Magazine November 2012
Preheat the oven to 450 F. Slice up all of your bread, I made 3 slices across and then 4 down to make 1/2 cubes. In an effort to save time I toasted the bread in two separate pans at the same time. Melt 2 Tbsp of butter in each skillet over medium-low heat, put in the bread and toss to coat. Transfer them to a baking tray making sure to make a single layer.
Peel, core and dice up your apples. In the same skillet you used for the bread, melt another Tbsp of butter over medium-high heat. Add the apples and cook stirring until slightly tender 4-5 minutes. Stir in the honey and apple cider vinegar, then transfer to a large bowl to cool.
Finish toasting your bread in the oven about 8 minute, I gave the pan a shake about half way through. On another baking tray arrange your sausage and bake them as well. They will need 12 minutes if you leave them whole and dice them up afterwards or 8-10 minutes if you take the casing off and crumble them up. When both are finish add them to the bowl with the apples. Then add your sage & thyme.
Using only the white and light green parts of the leek slice them in half and then thinly slice them into strips. Make sure you soak them for a few minutes before you cook them to get all the grit out, then dice up your celery. There is a lot of veggies so you may need to go back to your two pans or cook it in two shifts. In your apple skillet, melt another Tbsp of butter over medium heat and add the two vegetables. Add about 2 Tbsp of water and season with salt & pepper. Cook until they are translucent about 8-10 minutes, then transfer to the bowl with the apples, bread, sausage and spices.
Add your craisins and toss everything together. It is important to taste your stuffing while it is warm to get a sense of the seasonings and flavors that way you can adjust if need be. I think I ended up adding some more thyme and salt but you be the judge. Add 1 cup of chicken stock to the bowl and toss again.
Reduce the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9x13 baking dish with a Tbsp of butter and transfer the mixture to the dish. Cut 3 Tbsp of butter up into cubes and spread them out over top of the stuffing to melt as it bakes. Cover it with foil and bake 40 minutes, then uncover and continue to bake until golden brown about 40 more minutes. I prepared this the day before so I only cooked it with the foil off for 20 minutes and then on Thanksgiving it took about 30 minutes to heat through. Pour the extra 1/2 cup of chicken stock over top before reheating on the day of to make sure it is nice and moist.
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