It all started with a date night to Mission Pizza and this sausage:
If you live close to me and you’ve never been, permission to:
- Stop reading right now,
- Get out your car keys,
- Drive to Mission,
- And eat some sausage.
Promise to finish reading this later?
I got half a bite in my mouth before I closed my eyes and started to imagine eating
little big bites of Italian sausage forever. “That saaage. The fennelllll. Uhhhh huhhhhhh. Eeermmmyeeahhhh.” (Bonus: Mission’s Italian sausage will make you sound smart too!)
And ever since then I’ve been dreaming of sausage+sage+fennel. All those aromas filling my kitchen. And then filling my belly.
These apples take a little bit of time, but they are so satisfying. They can stand alone as a meal or fit in with a big Thanksgiving spread. (Yeah, I went there. Only 45 days out!) You can keep the apples crispy for a fork-and-knife dinner or bake them longer for an only-spoon-required dish. Any way you serve them, you won’t be able to get enough of those fall savory-sweet flavors. Eeermmmyeeahhhh.
And just a note on the cornbread bit of this recipe: Who doesn’t just freakin’ LOOOOVE cornbread? Enough said.
Sausage & Cornbread Stuffed Apples
- 1 package cornbread stuffing mix 6-oz.
- 1 package Jennie-O Lean Turkey Breakfast Sausage Roll 1-lb.
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dry sage
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 cup water
- 10 medium to large apples
- 1 medium-size sweet onion chopped
- 2 cups apple cider
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare stuffing mix according to package directions.
Cook the turkey sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, 8 to 10 minutes. Use a wooden spatula to crumble the meat. (It does not crumble as easily as ground pork or ground beef. Remove the sausage from skillet with a slotted spoon and reserve the drippings in skillet. Drain the sausage on paper towels.
Stir together the lemon juice and water.
Cut the apples in half, cutting through stem and bottom ends. Carefully scoop out the apple pulp and cores into a bowl, leaving a 1/4-inch shell. Rub the lemon juice mixture onto the exposed flesh of the apples to keep from browning. Remove and discard seeds and cores from the apple pulp then chop the pulp.
Sauté the onion and apple pulp in hot drippings over medium-high heat 6 to 8 minutes or until liquid evaporates and onion is tender.
Stir together the stuffing, sausage, and the apple mixture in a large bowl. Spoon the stuffing mixture evenly into the apple shells (about 1/2 cup stuffing per apple). Place apples in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish, and pour the apple cider into the base of the dish.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until apples are tender. Serve immediately.
Shout out here to Jennie-O for making a healthy sausage recipe possible with her Lean Turkey Breakfast Sausage Roll.
My rating: 4.5/5 stars. It was kind of tough to scoop out the apple centers. I would make these for a special treat, but they won’t turn into one of my kitchen staples, and for that reason alone. I will however, be cooking up more sausage with fennel and sage. Or at least frequenting Mission Pizza more often.
The BBF’s rating: 5/5 stars. Maybe even more. I can’t quite remember, except that he raved about future Thanksgivings and having these on the table. See, I’m not the only one with holidays already on the mind!
P.S. This is what happens when you get so busy in the kitchen that you forget to drink your coffee while it’s hot so you stick it in the microwave and then you forget that it’s in the microwave and then you accidentally set the microwave ON POWER for 20 minutes instead of setting the microwave TIMER for 20 minutes: