A is for A Prelude to Thanksgiving

The Menu

Roast Chicken

Sausage & Apple Stuffing

Green Beans with Apple Cider

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There’s a picture of the meal from another angle at the end of the post! YUMMY! 🙂

Roast Chicken

The Roast Chicken was not an apple recipe. I pre-heated my oven according to the instructions on the chicken’s packaging first. Then I prepped my bird. Here is what I did:

1. Remove the giblets and pat the chicken with paper towels until it is very dry (this helps it brown in the oven so you get that delicious, crispy skin!)

2. Rub the outside of the bird with softened butter

3. Sprinkle salt and pepper inside the chicken and on the outside (rub it into the skin on the outside so it spreads evenly)

4. Stuff the bird: I cut one WHOLE bulb of garlic in half cross-wise (splitting the cloves in half) and stuffed it inside. Then I cut a lemon in half (not squeezed) and stuffed that inside with one bunch of fresh rosemary (don’t remove the leaves from the stem… just put the stems in there whole).

5. Cook the chicken according to the package’s directions.

6. When the chicken is done cooking remove it to a large cutting board or platter and tent it with foil to let it rest (it might sound funny to let a cooked chicken “rest” but this will make your chicken juicier because the natural juices will have time to redistribute throughout the chicken, and they won’t leak out all over your cutting board/ platter like they would if you cut into it right away). The foil tent will help keep it warm while you make/ finish your side dishes.

7. Serve the roast chicken with another lemon halved or quartered and some rosemary sprigs to garnish (it will tell people what flavors to expect when they’re eating the chicken!)

I also made an apple cider gravy from the drippings after the chicken was done roasting. All you need are the drippings, butter, flour, apple cider, chicken stock, salt & pepper.

I put my roasting pan over two of my burners and turned them up to medium-high heat. I added 2 TBSP butter and 2 TBSP flour to the pan and whisked these together for about 1 minute. While whisking I poured in 1 cup of apple cider and 1 cup of chicken stock (pre-measure this before you start the gravy and be sure it’s at room temp or slightly warm… not cold!) Whisk for 3-4 minutes, scraping all of those yummy browned bits from the bottom of the pan (this is called “deglazing” the pan). Season the gravy with salt and pepper to your liking (add a little then taste, add more if needed and taste again, etc.) Pour the gravy into a serving bowl or gravy server until you’re ready to serve. You can always warm up the gravy in the microwave if you want to just before serving time!

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Sausage & Apple Stuffing

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F.

I used a 22 oz loaf of crusty white or sourdough bread (the recipe called for 1 1/2 pound loaf but this was close enough and worked just fine!). Slice it into 1 inch slices. Then, stack 2 slices on top of each other and make 1-2 horizontal cuts before slicing them vertically into 1 inch cubes. Try to get your cubes as even as possible so the stuffing cooks evenly. Put all your bread cubes on a large, rimmed baking sheet (spread out as evenly as possible in one layer). Bake the bread cubes for 7 minutes:

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When you take your bread cubes out of the oven set them aside to cool and raise your oven’s temperature to 350 degrees F.

The rest of your prep is chopping 2 yellow onions, 2 Granny Smith apples, 2 celery stalks, and 2 TBSP of flat-leaf parsley .

Here’s a slideshow to help you visualize what you need to do before I explain it:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

ONIONS: You want medium-diced onions (small chunks). Peel the onions, cut them in half (slicing the root end in half), make (about) 1/2 inch-sized slices through the onion moving from one side to the other (leaving the root in tact), and then make 1/2 inch-sized slices again through the onion moving from the non-root ends towards the root (discard the root when you get close to it). Click here for an onion “how to” video if you need more help.

APPLES: Cut your apples in half and then into quarters (unpeeled!) Core the quarters and chop them in half. Cut each quarter into thirds (you can do at least 2 quarters at once). Some of the apple quarters were smaller so I cut them in two pieces instead of thirds (you can see this in the slideshow above).

CELERY: You want a medium dice so cut each of the stalks in half lengthwise and then chop from one end to the other (holding the two halves together so you chop both at once). Aim for 1/2 inch pieces with your slicing.

PARSLEY: Tear off a small bunch of leaves from your parsley bunch. You want it fairly-well chopped but you don’t have to go super fine (chopped not minced!) I start by giving the leaves a rough chop and then I pile them all together and, putting my non-dominant hand on top of my blade, I chop back and forth (moving from right to left… left to right) over the leaves. I repeat this process until the leaves are chopped to the size I want (pile the leaves, chop back and forth, repeat). 🙂

This next part is really fun… you’ll feel indulgent…

Put a saute pan over medium heat and add a WHOLE stick of butter…. there’s something about adding a whole stick of butter to a pan… it’s gratifying… (sigh)

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When the butter has completely melted add all your onions, apples, celery, and parsley to the pan. Season with 1 TBSP salt and 1 tsp pepper (seems like a lot of salt but it’s a lot of stuffing so it needs it!) Saute all of this together for 10 minutes (stir it every minute or two).

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Put your cooled, toasted bread cubes into a LARGE bowl and then pour the sauteed onion/apple mixture right over the bread cubes in the bowl. Give it a toss to coat all the bread cubes.

Now put the saute pan back on the stove and add 1 pound either sweet or spicy Italian sausage. I used uncased sausage but if you buy it in the casings then you’ll have to remove those! Cook the sausage for 10 minutes over medium heat. I used a potato masher to help me break up the sausage into chunks. It should be browned and cooked through when it’s done.

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Add it to the bread cube/ onion/ apple mixture and give it another good toss. Do you see why I said you need a LARGE bowl for this?

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If you look at the recipe for this meal at the end of the post you might notice she calls for only 3/4 pound of the sausage but after making it her way I felt I wanted the whole pound when I made this in the future. The sausage is so yummy in this dish and I just wanted a bit more of it when I was eating my stuffing! Also, I used sweet Italian sausage (which we loved) but I might try spicy next time to see how it changes the flavor… I thought sweet would be better to balance the sourness of the Granny Smiths but I’m curious how it would taste with the spicy! (Let me know how it is if you try the spicy option!)

Okay, a moment of honesty… I forgot the celery when I made this… Did you notice in the onion/ apple/ parsley pictures that the celery I wrote about wasn’t there? However, BEFORE the mixture was put in the baking dish I realized my mistake and decided to just saute the celery with a little butter by itself and then add it to the rest of the mixture… no one will ever know, right?!

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The last steps before baking are to add chicken stock (1 cup + 1/3 cup) and dried cranberries (1 cup) to the bread cube mixture. The recipe calls for 1 cup of chicken stock but I would add a 1/3 cup more if I made this again to moisten the bread cubes a bit more (I felt it needed a bit more moisture when I was eating it) 🙂

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After giving your mixture one last good toss to evenly distribute the ingredients, pour everything into a 9 x 12 baking dish that you’ve buttered or sprayed with cooking spray.

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Bake it in your pre-heated 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes. It should be browned on the top and hot in the middle when it’s done.

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YUMMMMMMM!!!!

I was surprised how much I liked apples in a savory dish. This is a wonderful addition to your Thanksgiving meal! Try it this year!

Here’s the recipe from Ina Garten: Click here.

How I would tweak the recipe in the future: 

1. Use 1  1/3 cups of chicken stock (instead of just 1 cup)

2. Add 1 cup of walnuts to the mixture for crunch.

3. Use 1 pound of sausage (instead of just 3/4 pound)… and I’d probably try spicy sausage!

Green Beans with Apple Cider

I don’t have many instructions or pictures for this recipe but I’ll give you what I have!

I made maybe 1/2 the original recipe so I used about 16 oz frozen green beans and microwaved them, covered with saran in a microwave safe casserole dish, for about 3 minutes. Then I uncovered them and microwaved them 3-4 minutes more. You want them crisp tender (they shouldn’t be soggy… they should have a little “bite” to them. Season them with salt and pepper.

To make the Apple Cider sauce I cooked 1/2 a finely chopped onion in a drizzle of olive oil over low heat. After about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, they were well softened and beginning to caramelize. I turned up the heat to high and added 1/4 cup plus 2 TBSP apple cider to the pan. This should be cooked for about 5 minutes until the liquid has reduced (its water content will begin to evaporate); it will become somewhat syrupy and thick.

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Add the cooked green beans to the pan and give them a good toss until they are coated with the mixture. Then pour them into your serving dish and cover them to keep warm until serving time.

Click here for the official Green Bean recipe from Rachel Ray.

Here’s the final picture of our meal!

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Happy Eating! ~Jenna

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One thought on “A is for A Prelude to Thanksgiving

  1. Pingback: Favorite Recipes for Fall | Apples to Ziti

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