Friday, November 23, 2007

Smoked Sausage and Apple Whole Wheat Dressing

Coconut Curry Soup w Tofu Mushrooms 010

Dressing is probably my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner. It's really just a medium to carry gravy to my mouth without me tipping up the gravy boat like a total slob. However dressing is a malleable medium, capable of reflecting infinite textures and flavors. I can never get bored with dressing.

This particular dressing is, well, kinda healthy. It utilizes whole wheat bread -- crust and all -- and no egg or added flour for a “binder” so it has a “hearty” texture. The dressing is somewhat crumbly, although not dry. Nor is it dense like cornbread dressing. Great for soaking up gravy!

I used a tasty smoked beef sausage that's pretty low in fat content. I also used organic apples with the skin on for added texture and flavor, home made low-fat chicken broth.

One little pinch of cayenne pepper helps carry the flavor of the sausage with a minute amount of heat that is barely noticeable. If you want you may omit it entirely, but it was a nice subtle touch, and cayenne is one of those good-for-you “super foods” that I try to sneak into everything. The health impact of cayenne, like most “natural” supplements, is cumulative over time, so a little every day adds up over a lifetime.

The maple syrup I used for a glaze was an all-natural grade B variety and rather viscous so a little goes a long way to lend just the hint of sweetness to the crust of this rather savory stuffing.

I did add 3 tablespoons of butter, but that was just on general principle. I love butter. It's totally optional if you want to stay low-fat.

Smoked Sausage and Apple Whole Wheat Dressing

1 small yellow onion
1 cup diced smoked beef sausage
2 cups sweet apples, diced (gala or fuji apples)
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 pinch cayenne
8 slices whole wheat bread, lightly toasted
1 ½ cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp butter or cooking oil
3 Tbsp butter (optional)
2-3 Tbsp maple syrup
Salt, pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Tear bread into roughly 1-inch pieces and place in a large mixing bowl: crumbs, crust and all.

Over medium-high heat, sauté onions and sausage with 1 tablespoon of butter until the onions become tender. Add thyme and apples, and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the apples start to become tender. Season with cayenne pepper and transfer to another dish.

Return the pan to the heat and add chicken stock, scraping up any brown bits from the pan. When the stock comes to a simmer, turn off the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons of butter until melted.

Pour chicken stock over the bread and stir in the apple-sausage mixture. Mix thoroughly so that the bread becomes moist (if you need more moisture use more stock, water or apple juice) and transfer to an oven proof baking dish (9” round or smaller, or small-to-medium loaf pans). Pack lightly with the back of a spoon and brush with maple syrup.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.