Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stuffing and Sauce - It Ain't Thanksgiving Without 'Em

The Thanksgiving joy continues this week as I keep going down my list of T-day staples. Tonight I made two of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes, in preparation for a potluck at work. I have made both of these items the same way for years and even though I always think about changing it up and trying something new, I keep coming back to the same old staples. I mean, why change something that works, right?

The stuffing is essentially a combination of all of my favorite fall flavors. Apples, sausage, sage, fresh baked bread, orange juice, walnut and of course, because I'm from Quebec, maple syrup. It's a very simple stuffing to make and a lot of the ingredients can be interchanged for other items you might have in your pantry, in case you're like me and you dread going to the store. For example, tonight I was out of walnuts, so I substitutes some hazelnuts I had on hand.

The fall harvest makes an awesome stuffing...

The cranberry sauce is another old standby. I love all things tart, so naturally cranberry sauce is up there on my list of favorites. I like to liven it up however with some raspberries and a little bit of orange flavor. The best part about adding the raspberries too is that I make a HUGE batch and can all of the excess sauce and it makes diving jam, especially on some good toasted bread with cream cheese. So, the recipe below can be doubled or tripled (really how ever many times you want to multiply it is fine) and just can the rest to keep all year long.

A large batch of this super-berry sauce makes great jam for later!

On that note, a quick word about canning. Canning is a super easy way to preserve things for long periods of time, especially if the item is acidic. All it takes is a few canning jars with new seals (replacement seals can be bought for jars you're reusing), a large pot and some patience.

Put the pot of water on to boil, place the empty jars in the water for 5 minutes at a high boil to sterilize. Remove the jars and fill them with whatever you're preserving, leaving half an inch of space at the top. Place the seal on the jar and loosely screw on the ring, until it just catches.

Put the jar back in the boiling water and boil for 10 minutes. Remove the jar and let cool - it's the cooling that will cause the lid to suck down and make a "plop!" sound, this is when you know you've successfully canned. At this point tighten the ring down tight and store.

This jam makes a great Christmas gift too

IMPORTANT! This method only works with acidic items, it won't work with things like non-acidic soups or stews because they require pressure canning.

Alright, on to the recipes...


Sausage, Apple and Sage Stuffing

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large or 2 med. onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp sage, minced
1 tsp thyme
6 large Italian sausages, uncased
4 apples, any kind, diced
3/4 - 1 loaf crusty bread, cubed
1cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup orange juice                     
1/2 cup maple syrup                                                             
3 cups chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste

Set oven to 375 degrees, and place the oven rack in the middle.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Saute the onions until translucent. Add the garlic and herbs.
Break apart the uncased sausage and add to the pan, cook until browned.
In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients together and stir thoroughly.
Butter a large (13x9in) baking dish and pour the stuffing contents in.
Bake for about 45 min - 1 hour.
Can be made ahead, but reheat to serve.

(See, I told you it was easy!)

A Very Berry Cranberry Sauce (it doesn't get much easier than this folks)

2x 12oz bags of fresh cranberries
1x 12 oz bag frozen raspberries
2 cup orange juice (can substitute water, but it's not as rich)
2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp orange zest

Put everything in a pot together and boil down at medium heat until most of the cranberries have popped and all of the sugar is diluted.
Let the sauce cook down slightly, but it will thicken as it cools.
Add more sugar to taste if you like your sauce very sweet.

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