Thanksgiving appetizer: sausage bites with cranberry mustard dip

While everyone is waiting around for the the roasted turkey to 'rest' these pops of flavor will be a perfect appetizer at Thanksgiving.

The Runaway Spoon
Sausage bites packed with fresh sage and Gruyere cheese and served with a cranberry mustard sauce for dipping.

Thanksgiving involves a lot of food. But even when I know how much will end up on the table, I like to put out a little nibble for guests before the main event, while we finish cooking the turkey, have a few friendly drinks and settle in with each other.

Sausage balls are one of my very favorite snacks at any time, and a great childhood memory for me and my brother, so when I can add that type of delicious nostalgia to the spread, I like to make the most of it.

This version has an immense amount of Thanksgiving appeal. They are packed with fresh sage, which just smells and tastes like the holiday. Nutty Gruyere replaces the traditional cheddar to amp up the autumn flavor and cream cheese keeps them rich. I couldn’t resist adding another seasonal touch with a cranberry mustard dip, which, by the way, is also a great spread on leftover turkey sandwiches.

And of course, they also make a great breakfast for the holiday weekend.

Sausage bites with cranberry mustard dip

Yields: 30

For the Sausage Bites:
8 ounces cream cheese
1 pound sausage meat
4 ounces grated Gruyere cheese
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (like Bell’s)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 cups all-purpose flour

1. Place the cream cheese, sausage and Gruyere in the large bowl of a stand mixer and leave to come to room temperature, about one hour. This makes the dough easier to blend.

2. Using the paddle attachment, blend the sausage and cheese mixture a few minutes to break everything up. Add the sage, baking powder, poultry seasoning, salt, garlic, pepper, celery salt and paprika and blend until everything is distributed through the sausage. Add the flour and blend until everything comes together in a ball, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

3. Roll the dough into golf-ball sized balls and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes, until the balls are golden brown and cooked through.

4. The uncooked balls can be placed on a waxed paper lined tray and frozen until hard. Transfer to a ziptop bag and keep in the freezer for three months. Cook from frozen, increasing the cooking time by about 10 minutes.

For the Dip:
2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 a red onions, chopped (about ½ cup)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1. Put the cranberries, onion, honey, water and ground mustard in a large pot and cook over medium high heat until the cranberries burst and the onion is soft, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently to scrape down the sides of the pan and to prevent catching on the bottom.

2. Let the mixture cool slightly, then transfer to a blender or food processor. Add the Dijon mustard and blend (holding the top of the blender with a tea towel) until you have a smooth puree.

3. The dip will keep cooled and covered in the fridge for one week.

Related post on The Runaway Spoon: Cranberry Ginger Compote

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