Monday, November 24, 2014

Recipe: Apple and Cranberry Studded Stuffing with Quinoa and Sausage

Oooohhh good god I've been eating stuffing every day for the past week and a half.

Let's call it pre-gaming.

I'll give you this: it's not the worst problem to have. Now I'm just that much more excited for mashed potatoes (I LOVE POTATOES) and pumpkin pie. Usually stuffing is the first thing I pile on my plate at Thanksgiving, but I have a feeling my priorities will be just a weee bit shifted come Thursday. (BTW Mom please still make stuffing because I will definitely cry without it even though my body is now 80% made of bread cubes.)

Last week I was REALLY craving stuffing for dinner. It was nice and chilly in New York (though today it was 60 or something wonky like that), and a big, warm tray of apple-cranberry stuffing sounded just so perfect to curl up to. Spoiler alert, it was.

I wanted it to be a little more filling and a little less bread-y, so I swapped half the bread for a cup and a half of cooked quinoa. Um. Experiment gone right. You don't quite taste the quinoa - it kind of mushes in with all of the other ingredients, but it definitely adds some bulk without having to double up on the bread. Gluten free stuffing mix costs an arm and a leg (plus another arm and maybe an index finger), so I was also pretty glad to only have to buy one package. (I used Whole Foods brand, but I just saw that Trader Joe's carries gluten free stuffing mix! Gosh I just love 'em.)  

The rest of the recipe is the exactly as my mom makes it every year. In fact I shared it a few years ago, but this variation was worth providing to the internets as well. Whether you go half quinoa or all bread, don't mess with the cranberries, apples and sausage. They really make this stuffing something special, worth making year over year, and even for dinner the week before Thanksgiving. 

Recipe: Apple and Cranberry Studded Stuffing with Quinoa and Sausage
[original recipe from Gluten Free Blondie / Bon Appetit]

- If you use unseasoned stuffing mix OR are cutting up and toasting your own bread cubes, double the amount of poultry seasoning and sage. (So use 2 teaspoons each.)
- To make your own bread cubes: remove crust from 1 loaf of gluten free bread. Cut each slice of bread into cubes. Spread the cubes on a baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Cubes of bread should be dried and crisp, but not browned.
- I like to cook my quinoa in chicken stock instead of water to impart more flavor.

Ingredients (Serves 12-16)
.5 to 1 lb pork sausage, removed from casing (all one flavor, or combo of sweet and spicy)
1 medium to large yellow or white onion 
2 cups chopped celery (about 8 stalks)
8 to 10 oz. gluten free herbed stuffing mix (if stuffing mix is NOT seasoned, see Notes)
1.5 cups cooked quinoa
2 apples, cubed (peel on; about 2.5 cups)
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp dried sage
½ tsp black pepper
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock (gluten free)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 13x9” baking dish (glass or metal) with cooking spray, and set aside.

Place a large, heavy-bottomed skillet or pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, place sausage in pan and begin to break apart with a wooden spoon. Cook the sausage for about 5 minutes, continuing to break up with the spoon. Once the sausage has released some of its fat, add the chopped onion and celery. Cook for another 10-12 minutes, until the onion is translucent and the sausage is completely browned. Add 1/2 cup of the stock to the pan, and deglaze by using the wooden spoon to scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan.

Remove from heat. If there is a lot of excess fat (enough to pool in the corner if you tip the pan), pour it off.

If you’re using a big enough pot, you can do the rest of the mixing right in there. If not, scrape the sausage and veggies into a very large bowl.

To the sausage and veggies, add the stuffing mix, quinoa, apples, cranberries, poultry seasoning, dried sage and pepper. Gently toss all of the ingredients together so they’re evenly distributed. Slowly add 1.5 cups of the broth. Carefully toss once more.

Scrape all of the stuffing into the greased baking dish. Spread evenly, and pack down the top a bit. Slowly pour the remaining 1/2 cup broth evenly over the stuffing. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil, then bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the top of the stuffing is lightly browned and crisp. (For an extra crispy crust, broil on high for 3 to 5 minutes, keeping a close eye on it!)

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