It’s Thanksgiving Week here at The Gourmand Mom. Yesterday we started talking about the side dishes; my personal favorite part of the Thanksgiving feast. Today, we’re going to continue looking at a few easy and delicious dishes to complete any Turkey Day buffet. We’ll start with a fresh cranberry sauce, accented with freshly squeezed orange juice and zest. Then, we’ll take a look at my favorite Sausage, Apple, and Leek Stuffing recipe. After that, we’ll take a glance back at several other previously-posted Gourmand Mom recipes which would work beautifully for this occasion. Pick and choose what works for you.
As a child, I was a jellied cranberry sauce girl, through and through. I can not tell a lie; I still love the stuff. But, over the years, I’ve also learned to love fresh, whole berry cranberry sauce. It’s delicious paired with a bite of turkey or spread on leftover turkey sandwiches. I’ve even used it to make cranberry linzer-style cookies and baked it with brie wrapped in puff pastry. Spread some on top of a cheesecake for a seasonal touch!
Fresh cranberry sauce can be as simple as simmering cranberries in water with a bit of sugar or you can get creative incorporating other flavors. Most commonly, other fruit flavors are added, though I once made a cranberry sauce which featured caramelized onions. And I’ve got to admit that it was pretty spectacular. But, a cranberry-onion sauce might not be up everyone’s alley, so today we’re sticking with a basic Cranberry Orange Sauce. We’re replacing part of the water with fresh squeezed orange juice, then mixing in the zest of the orange skin. Simple and delicious.
Cranberry Orange Sauce
- 1 12-ounce bag Fresh Cranberries
- 3/4 cup Sugar
- Juice from 2 Oranges (about 1/2 cup)*
- 1/2 cup Water*
- Zest from 1 Orange
*Use 1 cup of liquid total.
Rinse cranberries and carefully examine for any stems or overly mushy berries. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Lower heat and continue simmering for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all cranberries have popped and the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat and cool completely before serving.
A few months ago, we celebrated Thanksgiving in June; a prelude to Christmas in July. For our summertime Thanksgiving meal, we enjoyed an open-faced turkey sandwich. On that sandwich, we piled on my favorite Thanksgiving stuffing. The secret is the sausage. My mom’s traditional stuffing incorporates the turkey giblets. You know, that pouch of organs which comes stuffed inside the turkey. The thought of it makes my skin crawl. Though, to be completely honest, I really enjoyed the texture which those giblets added to the stuffing. Regardless, I just can’t bring myself to use the giblets. For me, the perfect stuffing addition is ground sausage. The sausage adds such an incredible flavor and that great texture I was so fond of as a child. To the sausage, we add some mild leeks, sweet apples, and a generous handful of dried cranberries. Herb-seasoned bread cubes and chicken stock complete the mix. You won’t need more than a little salt and pepper after that.
The original idea for this stuffing comes from the Food Network recipe, found here. Over the years, I’ve adapted and simplified the recipe to suit our tastes. The recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, or stretched by adding more bread cubes and stock. Add the stock gradually until it reaches the right consistency. The mixture should be moist, but not mushy.
Sausage, Apple, and Leek Stuffing
- 1 pound Bulk Breakfast Sausage
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 2 Granny Smith Apples, peeled and diced
- 1 1/2 cup Leeks, finely sliced (about 1 large leek)*
- 6 cups Herb-Seasoned Bread Cubes
- 2 1/2 cups Chicken Stock (approximately)
- 1/3 cup Dried Cranberries
- Salt and Pepper, if desired
*To see my photo guide on leeks, click here.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a pan, cook the sausage until fully cooked, about 8-10 minutes. As it cooks, use a spoon to break up the sausage into small pieces. Remove the cooked sausage and place it in a large bowl. In the same pan (no need to clean it out) melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apples and leeks. Cook for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the apples and leeks to the bowl with the sausage. Add bread cubes and dried cranberries. Stir to combine. Slowly add the chicken stock, stirring between additions to give the bread a chance to absorb the stock. Continue adding stock until the stuffing is moistened but not mushy. Most of the bread cubes should still appear as cubes. (2 1/2 cups of stock should be about right, but add a little less or a little more, as needed, to get the right consistency.) Place the stuffing in a baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes, until heated through and the top feels firm.
*The stuffing can be fully prepared ahead of time, refrigerated and then baked before serving.
A Few More Thanksgiving Side Dish Ideas
Over the past few months, I’ve shared a few recipes which would work wonderfully for a Thanksgiving feast. Here’s a round-up of a few Gourmand Mom Thanksgiving side dish ideas.
Tomorrow, we’re moving on to the desserts! Yummy, yum, yum!