I can’t believe it’s only a week until Thanksgiving, which is my absolute favorite holiday of the year. I’m sure that a lot of you feel the same way. There’s no presents exchanged and no religion to bicker about. It’s just about eating as much food as humanly possible and maybe playing a few games. I even love the lead up to Thanksgiving. I get overly excited thinking about what I’m going to make – I scroll through recipes, do some testing in my own kitchen, pour over the options at the grocery store and run everything by Kramer no fewer than one hundred times (he’s a trooper) because I like to think out loud when I’m planning a party. It looks like we will be hosting 15 people yet again this year, and my 650 square foot apartment can’t wait to seat them all on the corners of my couch or on folding chairs. I don’t think anybody minds, though. You can eat, get up, get more food, mingle, and not worry about being stuck next Old Aunt Bertha at a long dining room table for three hours. We do an ‘orphan’ Thanksgiving, which is a pretty common thing in New York where it seems most people don’t live close to their families. It takes a lot of the stress away and leaves a lot of options open. For example, I’m not doing turkey this year. I thought fried chicken might be more fun. And nobody can tell me otherwise! I could use some board or card game suggestions, though. We had a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity last year, but I feel like that game is a little played out and we could use something new. Remember, any games need to be appropriate for at least 10-15 people. I guess we could be on teams, but I prefer to reserve any and all victories for me, myself and I.
This month, I was asked by the Urban Outfitters blog to come up with a Thanksgiving-themed recipe for them. I already knew that I wanted to do a waffle stuffing for my own holiday dinner this year, so I decided to do a little recipe testing and do a first run of the stuffing for UO. I loved the result, and I can’t wait to serve it up on the big day next week. I made my own Belgian waffles from this recipe, then chopped them up, toasted them, and combined them with what I consider to be the stuffing essentials: lots of sausage, onions, celery, walnuts and dried cranberries. Toss that with lots of maple syrup and some chicken stock and you’ve got yourself quite the Thanksgiving side dish. Kramer and I both stood at the kitchen counter, forks in hand, taking bite after bite, saying that this was our last bite but going back for just one more. I was thinking that maybe on Thanksgiving I might replace half of the chicken stock with apple cider, but that’s up to you. All I know is that waffles + sausage + maple syrup = absolute heaven. You will definitely want to serve the leftovers, if there are any, with a poached egg or two the next morning. Trust me on this.
Went to the Violent Femmes concert at the Roseland last week, had Best Pizza with Othello then introduced him to Dough doughnuts, had some Thai iced tea ice cream at Oddfellows, followed by drinks with Joel and Lily.
Waffles! I used this recipe.
Chop ’em up and toast ’em.
Cook your onions, celery and sausage.
Toss together your toasted waffle cubes, sausage, onions, celery, walnuts, and cranberries.
Add in the syrup and stock.
Place the stuffing in your pan, drizzle with a little extra maple syrup and top with some cubed butter. Bake until golden and toasty, about 15-20 minutes.
- 10-15 waffles (I used 10 large Belgian waffles, which is about 8 cups), cubed into 1-inch pieces
- 2 pounds breakfast sausage (think Jimmy Dean’s – this is America!)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 5 stalks celery, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground sage
- 4-5 cups chicken stock (or go nuts and do half chicken stock, half apple cider)
- 1 cup maple syrup, plus more for drizzling
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, finely cubed
- Sea salt, for sprinkling
- Use your favorite waffle recipe to make your waffles, or buy frozen Belgian waffles. Cook them according to the package directions. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F, cube the waffles into bite-size pieces, then place on two baking sheets and toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes until crisp and toasty. Allow to cool completely.
- In a heavy bottomed pan, crumble in your sausage and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned and cooked through. Remove sausage from the pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Add in 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter over medium heat, then add in the chopped onions and celery. Cook until softened, about 5-6 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another minute or so, until fragrant. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, toss together the toasted waffle cubes, sausage, onion mixture, walnuts, cranberries, salt, thyme, sage, and 4 cups of chicken stock. Toss together, and add another cup of chicken stock if necessary. Pour in the maple syrup and toss to combine.
- Press the stuffing into a well buttered 9 x13-inch pan (if you have extra, divide the stuffing between the 9x13-inch pan and an 8x8-inch pan) and drizzle with additional maple syrup and a sprinkle of sea salt. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, until golden and crispy. You may need an additional 5 minutes or so, depending on your oven.