MAPLE SAUSAGE, CARAMELIZED ONION & APPLE DRESSING
Forget the turkey. This dressing preparation is a carnivore's delight. Made with sausage and slowly cooked onions and tossed with aromatics and ciabatta, aka Italian slipper bread, this plate is packed with texture sensations. The apples are added just before baking and maintain a bit of crunch. The onions cooked in butter melt in the mouth and the sausage presents just the right amount of chew. Universally accepted that turkey is, well, little more than bland, dressing recipes seek to make up for this taste abyss. So good is the combination of dry bread, stock and crumbled minced and seasoned meat that it most definitely has the potential to upstage the bird. While perfect as a satisfying small plate at Thanksgiving, this recipe works for Sunday brunch too. Simply make the dressing the day before and serve alongside fried eggs instead of hashbrowns. It is a flavor packed dish that tempts the taste buds to keep requesting more long after hunger has subsided.
This recipe may be made in advance, simply cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight. Remove from refrigerator one hour before baking to prevent the dressing from drying out before it is heated in the center.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
2 large yellow onions, sliced lengthwise into 1/4" pieces
1 pound maple chicken or pork sausage, casings removed
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, finely diced
1 celery rib, finely diced
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
4 1/4 cups chicken stock
4 tablespoons parsley, chopped
4 tablespoons sage, chopped
4 tablespoons rosemary, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (1) pound loaves Ciabatta bread, diced into 1/2" cubes and left to dry out for 2 days
1 tart apple, diced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large cast iron SKILLET, heat 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter over medium heat. Add the sliced onions. Cook, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes or until the onions are a rich deep brown color--this step may take 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
When the onions are finished browning,Add salt to taste. Store up to one week in the refrigerator.
In a large cast iron skillet over medium heat, add the butter and olive oil. Add crumbled sausage and fry for 1 minute until the sausage has just begun to color.
Add the chopped onions, carrots, and celery. Cook the vegetables until tender.
Add the dried bread, sage, rosemary, apple, reserved caramelized onions and salt to the skillet.
Mix the bread mixture into the sausage mixture until it is well incorporated.
Add the chicken stock and parsley and mix until the liquid is completely absorbed.
Transfer the dressing mixture to an OVEN SAFE BAKING DISH and heat uncovered for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and lightly crusted.