Ah, the holidays. When families get together and bring the same food, year, after year, after year. These seasonal meals lean heavy on tradition, which in itself, is great. Many of the dishes that appear yearly are, in fact, made using recipes handed down by parents and grandparents.
But you can incorporate new things into the menu while keeping that tradition alive. For example, instead of that traditional stuffing on your holiday table, why not make your stuffing on the grill, giving it that little smokiness while using all the traditional ingredients that everyone expects to have with their meal. These Grilled Apple Sausage Stuffing Bites meet all the traditional stuffing requirements while being presented in a very untraditional way. Adapted for the grill from a recipe in Food And Wine Magazine (November 2013), these mini muffins pack an enormous amount of flavor in a bite size appetizer or hors d’oeuvre. This recipe will yield 24 mini muffins.
Gather the following ingredients :
- 3 cups cubed bread, prepared for stuffing, either packaged or homemade.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2/3 cup finely chopped onion
- 2/3 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed if needed
- 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon dried sage
- 1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled and finely chopped
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons chicken broth
It all starts with a sizzle. In a cast iron pan, over moderate heat, pour in the olive oil and melt the butter.
When the butter is melted, add the chopped onion and celery. Keep stirring until the mixture starts to brown, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Add in the garlic, sage and Italian sausage, stirring and breaking up the sausage while it cooks.
If you’re doing this part right, you’ll likely have a neighbor or two peeking out, just to see where that awesome aroma is coming from. Just keep stirring, and let them wonder what you’re up to. When the mixture is cooked through, meaning no more pink sausage is to be found, move the pan over to the cooler side of the grill.
Now, add the eggs, apple and chicken broth to the stuffing mix. Follow that with the cooked sausage mixture, and stir it up until it’s thoroughly mixed. Set it to the side to rest for a few minutes, until you get the muffin pans ready.
Spray the pans with a cooking spray to prevent the ingredients from sticking.
Grab your tool of choice, and get stuffing those muffin cups as tight and full as you can.
Before loading the muffin pans on my grill, I moved the coals around, banking them evenly on opposite sides, to create an indirect heating zone right down the middle. This way, I’m allowing for a more even grilling temperature around the muffin pans when laid down through the middle of the grill.
Total cooking time will be 22 to 25 minutes at about 375 degrees. At the halfway, or 11 minute mark, I rotated the pans to make sure that I get an even grilling temperature. When the muffins develop that crispy top and beautiful toasty appearance, it’s time to take the pans off the grill and set aside to cool.
Because of the cooking spray, they should now come out easily, but you may have to run a small spatula or plastic knife around the cup. And yes, it’s perfectly acceptable to sample one at this time, or two, or three. In fact, it’s encouraged and expected.
Pile them on a plate, pile them in a bowl, do what you will with them. Serve them warm, as appetizers or hors d’oeuvres. The crunchy, toasted, grilled top of these moist mini stuffing bites, scented with the holidays and created with traditional flavors, will have you thinking to yourself,
“Life Is Better Wood Fired”