Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New Twist on an Old Favorite

Thanksgiving… a meal like non-other, comforting and filling; yet many years it seems like the same dishes over and over again. You have your turkey with stuffing, hopefully not too dry. There’s mashed potatoes and gravy. Generally a green bean casserole. Rolls or bread. Throw in some pumpkin and apple pie and your meal is complete.

Completely boring say some.

So what to do? Turkey’s can be basted with fruits to add more flavor. Potatoes mixed with garlic and chives are always a favorite. Why not do a Asian green bean toss instead? Or try some pumpkin muffins and serve a berry pie for desert. All fairly simple substitutions. Some you may hold onto, others stick with the original and you can’t go wrong. But the stuffing… oh the stuffing is something to experiment with!

Remember the Focaccia bread I promised to reuse? Well here’s what became of the rest of it. It was a pre-Thanksgiving meal at our house featuring Louie's sausage and canned beef stock.

Since we are traveling to Chicago for Thanksgiving we took a little time to make our own Turkey a few weeks before. We then spent the weekend in Wisconsin helping my parents around the farm and setting up for their own family meal. No matter how you slice it Thanksgiving reminds us to be thankful and spend with those you love, even if you’re not with them.

Apple Sausage Stuffing
1 loaf Focaccia bread
3/4 cup crushed Italian bread crumbs
3 tbsp Olive Oil
2 carrots, washed and peeled
3 celery stalks, washed
1 large onion
1 green bell pepper
2-3 golden apples
1/2 lbs Italian sausage
3 cloves garlic
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp sage
1 tsp rosemary
3 cups beef stock
Salt and pepper

Cut Focaccia bread into large cubes. Broil in oven on a baking sheet until golden and crispy, do not burn. Remove and let cool in a large bowl.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the sausage and remove. Cut up into small pieces if not using ground meat. Add to the bread bowl.

In the same skillet heat the olive oil. Cut up the carrots, celery, apples, pepper, and garlic into bite sized peices, mincing the garlic. Add to the pan and sauté on low until heated through and tender. Add to the bread bowl with the Italian crumbs, beaten egg, herbs, salt and pepper.

Fold gently until mixed. Add the stock slowly until absorbed, mixing gently. Do not over mix.
Place in a sprayed pan that fits the amount you have made.

Bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 15 minutes or until top is browned slightly. Can broil if crispier stuffing is desired.

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