Friday, November 20, 2015

Weekend Gourmet Flashback: A Perfect Thanksgiving Side Dish: Savory Apple-Italian Sausage Bread Pudding

If your Thanksgiving menu planning is in full swing, I've got a fun and unique side dish recipe to share with you today! I originally featured this delicious Savory Apple-Italian Sausage Bread Pudding recipe last October, and fell in love with it. Lots of you did too -- I received lots of e-mails asking about it recently. The flavors are reminiscent of stuffing, so it would be a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table. This savory bread pudding features spicy Italian sausage and gets a bit of tart sweetness from the addition of apples. If your Thanksgiving menu is already set, this bread pudding would also be a great brunch item over the long holiday weekend! It's easy to make and features lots of familiar Fall flavors. I bake mine in an apple-shaped Le Creuset baker, but a round casserole dish works perfectly fine too.

I substituted mild Italian turkey sausage for the apple-chicken smoked sausage Le Creuset's original recipe called for. I also used half and half in place of heavy cream and left out the green bell pepper. Then, I added a bit of poultry seasoning and cinnamon to the mix for a warming holiday background flavor. Finally, since apple goes so well with cheddar, I added a cup of coarsely shredded sharp cheddar cheese. This bread pudding pairs great with roasted turkey or chicken.If you're looking for a something a bit different this year, I hope you'll give my savory bread pudding a try!

Savory Apple-Italian Sausage Bread Pudding
adapted from Le Creuset
  • 8 ounces sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 tbs. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated
  • 1 tsp. chopped Italian parsley
  • 3 tbs. butter
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 Honeycrisp apple -- peel, core, and chop into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces cooked, crumbled Italian sausage
  • 1 cup coarsely grated sharp cheddar [NOTE: I used Cabot Alpine Sharp Cheddar]
  • 1 3/4 cups half and half
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tbs. chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350. Add the cubed sourdough to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and add the garlic and chopped parsley. Toss well, until the bread cubes are evenly coated with the oil and seasoning. Arrange on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, until the cubes are browned.
Step 2: Add the butter to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until the onion begins to soften and get some color -- about 4 minutes. Add the apple and cook until the apples begins to soften. While the veggies and apple mixture is cooking, make the custard: add the half and half and eggs to a large measuring cup and whisk until combined. Set aside.
Step 3: Add the toasted sourdough cubes to a large mixing bowl. Add the crumbled Italian sausage, sharp cheddar, and apple-veggie mixture. Add the custard and stir to combine evenly. Push the bread cubes into the custard. Let sit for 10 minutes, stirring 2-3 times to ensure all the bread sits in the custard.
Step 4: Butter a deep 2-quart casserole dish. Ladle the bread pudding mixture into the casserole. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and cook the bread pudding an additional 30 minutes, until browned. Let cool 30 minutes before serving.
This delicious savory bread pudding is a bit like traditional stuffing or dressing -- only a bit richer thanks to the addition of the eggy custard. It's savory, with bursts of tangy sweetness from the apple...and a hint of sharp cheddar in every bite. The mild Italian sausage provides just enough spice to compliment the apple without overpowering. If you like big-flavor side dishes, you must give this one a try!
To me, you can never have too much dressing or stuffing on Thanksgiving. Being from Texas, we have to have our cornbread dressing in my family -- but we always have at least 2-3 variations on stuffing or dressing at our big family meal. This Savory Apple-Italian Sausage Bread Pudding will fit in perfectly!

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