Ahh! Thanksgiving is just around the corner. There is nothing like the smell of turkey baking in the oven. I must admit that the only part of the turkey I like is the breast, but I do love the stuffing and dressings that accompany the turkey. Growing up we always a very rich cornbread dressing. Without fail, I would eat so much of it I would end up with a stomach ache. Cornbread dressing is still my favorite but I like others too. Sausage and apples make a great stuffing. The combination of the slightly tart apple to savory sweet sausage is excellent. Use a mild sausage for this, you don't want to overpower the turkey if you putting it directly inside. See hint below for a spicier dressing.
Roast Turkey with Sausage and Apple Stuffing
Stuffing Ingredients for a 10 to 12 pound turkey
12 ounces bulk mild pork sausage
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped (about 1 cup)
6 cups dried bread cubes
1 tbspn Poultry Seasoning
1 cup of canned chicken broth
1 cup of water with 1-1/2 tbspn chicken soup base added (I use Watkins, its a powder and less salty than a cube)
Directions for preparing stuffing
1. Cook sausage and bacon in skillet, stirring until sausage crumbles; drain (reserve 2 tbspn of the drippings) and place in a large bowl.
2. Cook onion, celery, and apple in drippings over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until tender (about 5 minutes); remove from heat.
3. Add to meat mixture along with bread cubes, water, soup base and Poultry Seasoning; mix well. Set aside while preparing turkey.
Stuff turkey loosely with sausage-apple stuffing* (place remaining stuffing in a glass casserole to bake later). Bake turkey, uncovered, at 325 degrees for 4 to 4-1/2 hours, basting occasionally with pan juices. When done juices will run clear. Remove from oven and let stand at least 15 minutes before carving.
Place casserole with remaining stuffing in the oven the last hour before serving.
*You can stuffing entirely in casserole dish. Add a little more water for a more moist stuffing. Bake until lightly golden brown.
*To make a spicy sausage and apple stuffing, use one half bulk mild pork sausage and one half hot pork sausage. Do not place in turkey - bake in casserole dish.
Serving cranberry sauce can be more than just removing it from the can. This year make a Cranberry Orange Relish and wait for the raves. It doesn't matter how much turkey you eat at Thanksgiving dinner, you always want a late night sandwich** of sliced turkey. Smooth one side of bread with mayo, top turkey with cranberry orange relish. This relish is good anytime. Every year my coworker's mother used to send a jar to 'the ladies' in the office.
I know that some of you will head out to a restaurant for your Thanksgiving meal. Last year my friend and I spent a long weekend at the New Jersey shore. I was pleasantly surprised to see that so many others had the same idea. I even had my beloved cornbread dressing - it wasn't as rich and buttery as my mom's but it was good. I hope you have a safe, happy and healthy holiday whatever you do.
**By the way - we can thank John Montague (1718-1792), the 4th Earl of Sandwich for sandwiches. Legend has it that he was once too busy to sit down to a formal meal so he had his chef put meat between slices of bread. I guess the Earl was eating lunch at his desk like so many of us do now.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Hot & Spicy Editor