Fandango Pitcher

The Great Plains Heisey Club

Members from Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska

Matt’s Sausage, Apple and Cranberry-Nut-Bread Dressing

2  pounds sliced cranberry-pecan bread, cut into cubes (see separate recipe below)
6  tablespoons unsalted butter
3  Granny Smith apples—peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
2  shallots, thinly sliced
1  celery rib, finely chopped
2  tablespoons chopped sage
1  pound bulk breakfast sausage, broken into pieces
6  cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the bread cubes in a large roasting pan and toast for about 15 minutes, stirring once or twice, until slightly dry. Transfer to a large bowl.

In a large, deep skillet, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter. Add the apples, shallots, celery and sage and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are lightly browned in spots, about 8 minutes. Add the sausage pieces and cook over high heat, breaking them up with a spoon, until they are browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups of the stock and boil until nearly evaporated, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the sausage mixture to the bread along with the remaining 3 cups of stock. Stir until evenly moistened. Transfer the dressing to a large, buttered baking dish and dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.

Cover the dressing with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 30 minutes longer, until the dressing is browned around the edges. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Make Ahead: the recipe can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated for 3 days.

Cranberry-Pecan Bread
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
3 1/3 cups white whole-wheat flour, preferably King Arthur brand
1 tablespoon instant dry yeast
4 teaspoons fine table salt
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries (7 ounces)
2 cups pecan halves (7 ounces)
Vegetable oil

In a bowl, combine both flours with the yeast. Add 3 1/4 cups of warm water and stir until a soft dough forms. If the dough is too stiff, add 2 more tablespoons of warm water. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.

Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead and work the dough until smooth but still very sticky, about 5 minutes. Flatten the dough and sprinkle it with the salt; knead until the salt is evenly incorporated, about 5 minutes. The dough will tighten slightly. Flatten the dough and scatter the cranberries and pecans on top. Fold the dough over the fruit and nuts and knead them in. Lightly oil the bowl, add the dough and turn to coat. Cover and let stand until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper; brush with oil. Punch down the dough, then cut into 2 pieces. Flatten each piece of dough into a 10-inch oval. Fold in the short ends as you would a billfold and pinch the ends. Pat the dough into a 9-inch oval loaf; transfer to one of the baking sheets, seam side down. Repeat to form the second loaf. Lightly brush 2 pieces of plastic wrap with oil and loosely cover the loaves. Refrigerate overnight.

Uncover the loaves; let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, until slightly risen. Using a knife, make a 1/2-inch-deep slash down the length of each loaf.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Bake the loaves for about 40 minutes, shifting the baking sheets halfway through. The loaves are done when they're browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 170°. Transfer the loaves to a rack and let cool before slicing.