Thanksgiving is all about the food. Sure it’s about love and gratitude and family, too, but all that happens around a massive pile of delicious food. Maybe that’s why it’s my favorite holiday of the year? That and the opportunity to eat ALL THE CARBS.
For most of us, cooking on Thanksgiving is a precisely choreographed dance, timing all the dishes that need to be baked so they all get cooked and end up on the table warm (hopefully), a task that can be quite tricky with a single oven (it’s not like you can bake your pie and your turkey at the same time).
This year I’m so excited to put my new KitchenAid® Electric Double Oven Convection Range to work. It has two ovens in the space of one standard slide-in range, replacing the warming drawer that most ovens have with a second smaller oven. For those of us with small kitchens who don’t have space for a full double wall oven, this range is downright brilliant.
I wanted to put the Double Oven Convection Range, and all its fancy features, to the test. What better holiday to do so than Thanksgiving?
In the top oven, we’ve prepared a savory stuffing (actually, I mean dressing… since it’s baked separately as opposed to being stuffed inside the turkey). It features some unique flavors with Italian sausage, caramelized fennel, and marble rye bread. The fennel in the sausage enhances the flavor of the caramelized fennel, and plays beautifully with the caraway in the rye bread. Unusual? Yes. Delicious? Definitely.
The main flavoring element in this stuffing, along with the sausage, is the caramelized fennel. Two whole bulbs of it, to be precise. Trust me, it seems like a lot more fennel in the beginning, but once it cooks down and gets all browned and happy, it’s a much more reasonable amount.
Roasting the fennel in the Double Oven Convection Range is much easier than doing it stovetop where it can be very hard to get good caramelization on such a large quantity of fennel. Plus, in the Double Oven Convection Range it just needs a stir every 10 to 15 minutes. The rest of the time can be spent preparing the other parts of the recipe.
The caramelized fennel gets tossed with cubes of marble rye bread, sautéed carrot and shallot, and fresh parsley and thyme. For moisture, a mix of egg, chicken broth, and molasses add a touch of sweetness. Depending on how moist or dry your bread is, you might want to add additional chicken broth as necessary.
The stuffing is then baked in an oiled casserole dish. Use the largest casserole dish from the KitchenAid® Ceramic 4-Piece Nesting Casserole Set. Cooking for less people? Halve the recipe and use the smaller 2-quart size in the Casserole Set for a portion perfect for a more intimate gathering.
Can I just say that I have never been a stuffing person (out of all the Thanksgiving classics, it’s the dish I can most easily give up), but this stuffing is a game changer.
In the bottom oven, we made rolls. These soft and sweet milk & honey dinner rolls were made with a mix of wheat, rye, and oat flours that created a lovely multi-grain flavor. All they need is a smear of butter and you’ll be in bread heaven.
If you’ve never used your KitchenAid® Stand Mixer to make bread, you’ve probably been working too hard. Using the flat beater, mix until the ingredients come together. Use your Stand Mixer fitted with the dough hook and let it knead your dough until it transforms from something that looks like cookie dough into a stretchy and sticky dough.
You’ll know the dough is done when it starts to pull off the sides of the bowl, but still sticks to the bottom. Then, just knead it a minute or two by hand (just until it comes together in a smooth ball), and put it in a clean oiled bowl to proof. I especially love using the Glass Bowl with my Stand Mixer. It includes measurement markings, which makes it extremely easy to see when your dough has doubled in size.
I’ll admit, I didn’t know my new Double Oven Convection Range had a proofing feature until I started working on this recipe. Yeast-based recipes can be frustrating, especially this time of year when the kitchen is not nearly warm enough to make the yeast happy. I used to proof my dough in the oven with the oven light on; the light alone gives off just enough residual heat to help the dough rise. And that worked fine, until I discovered the magical “Bread Proof” button, which works WAY better.
This brilliant proofing mode brings the oven to a balmy 120° F, an ideal temperature for the yeast to multiply like bunny rabbits. In about an hour, my dough has doubled in size, whereas normally I would have expected to wait at least two.
The final rolls are brushed with an egg wash, sprinkled with rolled oats, and baked with the Double Oven Convection Range’s Even-Heat™ True Convection, which uses the electric element, the broiler, and the unique bow-tie fan to cook the food evenly from all sides. For bread especially, convection cooking is ideal, as it seals in the tender inside while yielding a crispier outer crust.
This Thanksgiving, we’ve got your bread course covered. In butter. And caramelized fennel.
What’s on your Thanksgiving menu?
Share your take on the stuffing and dinner rolls on Instagram using #MadeWithKitchenAid for a chance to be featured.
Italian Sausage & Caramelized Fennel Stuffing
Makes 12 servings
1 pound loaf marble rye, rye or pumpernickel bread, cut into 1/2 to 3/4-inch cubes (about 10 cups cubed)
2 fennel bulbs, cored, halved, and very thinly sliced (about 5 cups sliced)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large carrots, chopped (about 2 cups chopped)
3 large shallots, chopped (about 1/2 cup chopped)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seed
1 pound mild Italian sausage (casings removed if purchased in links)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons molasses
Preheat the KitchenAid® Electric Double Oven Convection Range to 400° F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Prepare a 3-quart casserole dish from the KitchenAid® Ceramic 4-Piece Nesting Casserole Set by brushing with melted butter or spraying with cooking spray.
Cut the bread into cubes. If your bread is a few days old, it might be fine as is, but if it seems particularly fresh and moist, you can spread it on a sheet pan and toast it for 5 to 10 minutes to dry it out. This will allow the bread to absorb more of the chicken broth when baking.
In a bowl, toss sliced fennel with the melted butter and olive oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Spread into a single layer on prepared sheet pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until the fennel is soft and caramelized. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add carrot and shallot and cook until softened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add fennel seed, parsley, and thyme and cook for 1 minute more. Season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to the bowl with fennel.
Return the pan to medium heat. Add sausage to the pan and cook, breaking up large pieces as you go, until browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer to bowl with vegetables.
Whisk together chicken stock, eggs, and molasses in a bowl or glass measuring cup.
Add bread cubes to the bowl with vegetables and toss to evenly distribute. Add liquid and stir until evenly absorbed. If you prefer extra moist stuffing, and depending on how dry your bread is, you can add up to another 1/2 cup of chicken broth as needed until the bread is moistened throughout, but not yet soggy.
Pour bread mixture into the prepared casserole dish, spreading into an even layer in the pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until top is golden brown and crispy and stuffing is hot all the way through. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Milk & Honey Multi-Grain Dinner Rolls
Makes 12 rolls
2 cups (9 ounces) bread flour, plus more as needed
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) rye flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) oat flour or finely ground rolled oats
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant/rapid rise yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes and softened
1/4 cup honey
1 1/4 cups whole milk
Rolled oats, for topping
Combine bread flour along with rye flour, oat flour, yeast, and salt in the bowl of your KitchenAid® Stand Mixer fitted with the flat beater. Mix to evenly combine. Add softened butter and mix until butter is broken up into pea-sized pieces. Mix in honey, then, with the Stand Mixer running on low speed, drizzle in milk.
Once the milk is incorporated, scrape down the sides of the bowl and attach the dough hook to the power hub of your Stand mixer. Knead on low speed for 7 to 10 minutes or until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, but still sticks to the bottom.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead by hand for another 1 to 2 minutes or until dough comes together in a smooth, but still slightly sticky ball, working in an additional 2 to 4 tablespoons of bread flour as needed to make it workable.
Place the dough ball in a lightly oiled mixing bowl and cover lightly with a clean tea towel. Place the bowl in a warm, draft-free place, or, even better, in your KitchenAid® Electric Double Oven Convection Range with the “Bread Proof” mode turned on for even faster proofing.
Let rise for about 1 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
Punch down the dough, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into quarters, then cut each quarter into thirds. You should end up with 12 evenly sized pieces.
Shape each piece into a ball by stretching the cut side of the dough out and back under itself, almost like you are turning the dough ball inside out. Firmly pinch together the dough on the bottom so it sticks together.
Arrange shaped rolls, pinched side down, on a parchment-lined sheet pan, leaving a few inches of space between them. Cover lightly with a tea towel and place in a warm spot (such as the top of your preheating oven) to rise again for 30 to 45 minutes while the oven preheats.
Preheat the Double Oven Convection Range to 325° F (350° F for a standard bake). Lightly beat the egg with 1 tablespoon water in a small dish.
When the rolls have doubled in size, brush tops with egg wash, and sprinkle with rolled oats. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the tops are golden. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Serve the rolls while they’re still warm, split, and spread with butter while still steamy on the inside.
While rolls are best fresh out of the oven, they can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Rewarm prior to serving.
*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*