Sausage, Apricot and Pecan Stuffing

My go-to recipe for stuffing comes from Cooks Illustrated — it takes some time, but it’s straight-forward and delicious. My only complaint is that the original version makes too much stuffing, especially if you’re not planning to stuff the turkey. And let’s face it: Cooking the stuffing on the side just gives you more exciting options for the turkey itself (e.g., spatchcocking, deep frying, etc.).

So here, I’ve scaled the recipe back a bit to make it more manageable, and modified it for baking in a casserole dish. It’s suitable for a 13×9 baking pan or 3-quart casserole.

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated’s Bread Stuffing with Sausage, Pecans and Dried Apricots (The New Best Recipe, America’s Test Kitchen 2004).

Ingredients

1 loaf french bread (1 pound)
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 lb sweet Italian sausage
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
heaping 1/4 tsp each dried sage, thyme and marjoram
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
heaping 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
2/3 cup dried apricots, sliced in thin strips (about 1/4 lb)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Divide the bread into thirds; save 1/3 for another use, and cut the rest into 1/2-inch slices. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake for 30-40 minutes. The bread should end up dried but not browned. Once it has cooled slightly, cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.

Turn the oven up to 350 degrees. Spread the pecans out on the sheet pan and toast in the oven until fragrant, about 6-8 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage (casings removed, if there are any), breaking it up into bite-size pieces, until browned and no pink remains. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

Remove excess grease from the pan, then add the butter. Saute the onions and celery until soft and translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Add the sage, thyme, marjoram and pepper and cook 1 minute more. Transfer to the bowl with the sausage and stir.

Stir the parsley, apricots, pecans and salt into the sausage mixture, then top with the bread cubes. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the broth and eggs, then pour over the bread cubes.

Fold the bread cubes into the sausage mixture until thoroughly mixed. Spread the stuffing out into a buttered baking dish, tamping it down gently with a spoon or spatula to fill the dish evenly. (At this point you can cover and refrigerate overnight if desired. Let it sit out at room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking.)

Dot the surface of the stuffing with small bits of butter. Cover with a piece of buttered aluminum foil and bake until hot throughout, about 25-30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake about 15 minutes more, until the top is golden brown.

Pictured: Corning Ware Floral Bouquet Third Edition A-3-B Casserole, Pyrex Town and Country 444 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Town and Country 443 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Spring Blossom 2 403 Round Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Measuring Cup, Glasbake French Casserole

Sweet & Smoky Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I like sweet potatoes, but I’ve never been a fan of that ubiquitous Thanksgiving casserole involving sweet potatoes, sugar and marshmallows. Instead, I lean toward the savory side — sweet potatoes are sweet enough on their own without all that extra sugar, after all.

In this recipe, chipotle adds a smoky flavor that is subtle enough to complement most other Thanksgiving dishes. We’ll be enjoying it tomorrow with turkey and all the trimmings.

 

Ingredients

3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled
4 tbsp butter
3 tbsp heavy cream
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice (about 1 lime)
1 chipotle pepper (canned in adobo sauce), minced
1 tsp adobo sauce
1/2 tsp salt

Using your preferred method, cook the sweet potatoes until fork tender. (You can boil or steam them, or use a sous vide machine if you have it: Sous vide is a handy technique because you can attain perfect doneness with very little effort. I cooked my sweet potatoes with the sous vide for 45 minutes at 194 degrees – basically this recipe, minus the seasoning.)

In a small saucepan, combine the butter and cream and cook over low heat until the butter is melted.

Mash the sweet potatoes with the butter and cream in a large bowl. Add the lime juice, chipotle, adobo sauce and salt and continue mashing until smooth.

Pictured: Pyrex Town and Country 444 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Spring Blossom 401 Round Mixing Bowl, Corning Ware French White F-12-B Casserole, Corning Ware Blue Cornflower P-89-B Lipped Saucepan

No-Cook Cranberry Relish

If you need a change of pace from traditional cranberry sauce, this tangy no-cook version is an easy and delicious way to bring something new to your Thanksgiving table. The texture is more like a relish or salsa than a sauce, but it pairs just as well with turkey. I’ve also seen it layered over cream cheese to serve as a spread with crackers.

Ingredients

2 lbs fresh cranberries
2 navel oranges
1 tbsp ginger, peeled and minced (or grated)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped mint

In a food processor, pulse about half the cranberries until they are coarsely chopped, then transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

Remove the zest of one orange with a vegetable peeler, chop the zest into smallish pieces, and add to the food processor. Using a sharp knife, remove the peel and pith from both oranges. Then cut the orange sections away from their membranes and add the sections to the food processor. Add the rest of the cranberries, the ginger and sugar and pulse until finely chopped.

Combine both sets of chopped cranberries, add the mint and stir until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate overnight before serving.

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Pictured: Corning Ware Floral Bouquet Third Edition A-1 1/2-B Casserole, Pyrex Spring Blossom 401 Round Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Spring Blossom 2 403 Round Mixing Bowl

No-Knead Harvest Bread

No-knead bread is so easy, and comes out so good, I rarely make any other kind. The technique uses a wet dough and ultra-long rise to generate flavor and gluten without the physical work of kneading. There’s really no other bread recipe that gives you a better ratio of low effort to incredible result.

The main thing to remember is that you need about 22 hours total from the time you start to when the bread is ready to eat. Very little of that time is active prep time, but you do need to plan your bread-making schedule in advance. The dough is very forgiving, though, so there’s a lot of wiggle room in the timing.

Here I used pumpkin to give the bread a nice fall color and tender texture. But you can omit the pumpkin and still end up with an excellent loaf — just increase the water to 1 1/3 cup (300 grams). You can also swap out the rye flour for whole wheat or just bread flour.

Adapted from the Basic No-Knead Bread Recipe in Jim Lahey’s My Bread (I highly recommend this cookbook — it is full of terrific breads, some unique, top-notch pizzas and a bunch of sandwich and other bread-related recipes).

Ingredients

2 3/4 cups bread flour (367 grams)
1/4 cup rye flour (33 grams)
1 1/4 tsp salt (8 grams)
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup plus 2 tbsp water
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
yellow cornmeal

In a large bowl, stir together the two flours, salt and yeast.

Combine 1 cup of water with the pumpkin puree in a separate bowl and stir until smooth. Add to the flour mixture, then stir until completely incorporated. The result should be a wet, sticky dough that forms a shaggy ball. If the dough feels dry, add the remaining 2 tbsp of water a little at a time as needed.

Cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap, then let rise at room temperature for about 18 hours. When the dough is ready, it will have more than doubled in size and spread out from edge to edge of the bowl. The surface should be dimpled all over with bubbles.

Using a floured spatula, scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface, keeping it in one piece. It will be sticky and stringy. Fold the dough in half on itself a few times and shape into a ball. Make sure the top and bottom of the ball are well floured, then cover loosely with a smooth (not terry-cloth) towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 1-2 hours. (I like to use a floured proofing basket for this step because it makes a pretty loaf, but it’s not essential.)

Preheat oven to 475 degrees and place a heavy pot (about 5-quart size, preferably cast iron), covered, on a rack in the lower third position. When the oven and pot are up to temperature and the dough is ready, take the pot out of the oven and remove the lid.

Dust the bottom of the dough lightly with cornmeal and gently drop it into the hot pot.  Don’t worry if it’s not perfect — it will even out on its own. You can score the top of the dough if you wish, but it will typically open up natural cracks as it bakes.

Cover the pot (remember it’s hot!), return to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 15-30 minutes. When the bread is done, the crust should be dark golden brown and the internal temperature of the loaf should be roughly 190 degrees.

Remove the loaf from the pot (a heat-proof spatula, spoon, tongs and/or pot holders help) and set it on a rack to cool for at least 1 hour. Cutting into it too early will result in a gummy texture. If desired, reheat the bread for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven before serving.

Pictured: Pyrex Town and Country 444 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Town and Country 443 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Measuring Cup

Apple and Red Cabbage Coleslaw with Cider Vinaigrette

Thanks to a recent apple picking excursion we have about 8 pounds of fuji apples on hand, and I’ve been thinking about ways to use them. Sure, I could make apple cake or apple pie, but for those times when I’m not in the mood to bake, what then? I settled on an apple slaw — crisp, sweet, savory and tart all in one.

I like my coleslaw tangy, so I chose apple cider vinegar for the dressing. My six-year-old, however, proclaimed it “too sour” — so feel free to substitute a milder variety like white wine vinegar or rice vinegar.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp coarse ground mustard
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp honey
5 tbsp olive oil
1/2 small red cabbage, cored and shredded
2 large carrots, peeled and julienned
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped fine
2-3 fuji apples, cored and julienned

For the vinaigrette: Whisk together the cider vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, honey and olive oil. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, carrots, green onions and parsley. Add the apples (I like to save chopping the apples for last so that they have less time to go brown). Add the vinaigrette and toss until mixed well. Refrigerate for about a hour before serving.

Pictured: Pyrex Yellow 404 Round Mixing Bowl, Federal Batter Bowl

 

Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Salsa

There’s nothing like fresh homemade salsa — especially if you grow your own tomatoes. But if you’re like me and pretty lacking in the green thumb department, supermarket tomatoes can still make a tasty salsa, with a little help from the broiler.

I typically opt for cherry tomatoes, because they seem to have the most flavor of all the grocery store tomato options. Roasting them helps concentrate that flavor even more and gives them a mild smokiness — creating a great salsa base. Roasting the jalapeños mellows them out a bit so that they add just the right amount of spice. Corn brings a little sweetness, and black beans practically turn the salsa into a meal in itself!

This recipe makes about 4 cups of salsa — enough to bring to a party and save some for yourself.

Ingredients

2 lbs cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
6 jalapeño peppers, stemmed, sliced in half and mostly seeded
6 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
1 red onion, chopped fine
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn, rinsed to defrost
1-2 tsp salt
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, chopped fine

Preheat oven on the broiler setting and set a rack about four inches from the heat source. Arrange tomatoes cut side up on a lightly oiled sheet pan, then broil until they start to char in spots, about 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

On another lightly oiled sheet pan, arrange garlic and jalapeños (also cut side up). Broil 4-5 minutes, then flip everything and broil until jalapeño skins are well charred. Keep an eye on the garlic to make sure it doesn’t burn (you’ll probably need to take it out a few minutes early). When the jalapeños are done, transfer to a Ziploc bag, seal and let sit for about 10 minutes (this helps separate the skins from the flesh of the peppers).

Squeeze the garlic out of its skin and mince. Place in large bowl and add onion, black beans and corn. Peel the jalapeños, chop fine and add to the bowl. Mix well.

Squeeze the tomatoes out of their skins and into a small bowl. Puree with an immersion blender (or regular blender), then stir into the black bean mixture.

Add salt to taste, then stir in lime juice and cilantro. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Pictured: Pyrex Verde 444 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Clear 323 Mixing Bowl, Glasbake French Casserole

Yeasted Lemon Zucchini Bread

We are lucky enough to have wonderful neighbors who share produce from their vegetable garden year-round. So when they brought over a monster zucchini recently, I decided to make some zucchini bread. But not just any zucchini bread!

While I love traditional zucchini bread — usually a quick bread leavened with baking powder — there is something really satisfying about baking yeast breads. The smooth feel of well kneaded dough, watching it rise, shaping it — not to mention the physical work and patience required. Plus, you can’t beat the soft, fluffy texture!

So I set out to make a yeasted zucchini bread, something with the flavors of the traditional recipe and just a touch of sweetness, like a breakfast bread. It’s delicious served warm with plenty of butter!

 

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups bread flour (stir your flour before measuring to loosen)
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium)
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
cooking spray

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and yeast. Add the zucchini and lemon zest and stir to incorporate. In a separate bowl, combine the water, honey and olive oil, then add to the flour mixture.

Knead until smooth. I like to do the bulk of the kneading with an electric stand mixer using the dough hook attachment (for about 4 minutes), and then finish it up by hand. The dough starts out a little wet, so add small amounts of flour as you go (not too much) to keep it from sticking to your hands. The end result should be smooth and slightly tacky, but not sticky. (King Arthur Flour has a nice kneading tutorial here.)

Oil your bowl with cooking spray and place the dough inside. Spray the top of the dough, then cover loosely with plastic wrap or a cotton towel. Let rise in a warm place until roughly doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently for about a minute. Shape into a sandwich loaf (see this King Arthur Flour tutorial) and place into an oiled standard loaf pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a cotton towel and let rise until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Bake until golden brown and internal temperature registers at 190 degrees, about 45-60 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Let cool another hour before serving.

Pictured: Corning Ware Blue Cornflower P-315-B Loaf Dish, Pyrex Yellow 404 Round Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Spring Blossom 444 Cinderella Mixing Bowl