Rustic, Butternut


"French baguette with fennel, onion, apple, butternut squash, herbs & sweet Italian sausage, soaked in a savory custard, baked with sweet cream butter until Golden"



2.5 to 3 quart Au Gratin dish

1 large French baguette (10-12 oz)

1 small butternut squash

1/4 cup dried cranberries


Savory Custard

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 large branch French Thyme

1.5 cups chicken broth-room temp

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 large eggs-room temp

1/3 cup cream-room temp

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pinch white pepper

Sausage & Vegetables

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage/no casings

1 cup medium dice fennel bulb

1 cup medium dice white onion

1 cup diced golden apple

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon plus a pinch, rubbed sage

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

2 tablespoons pine nuts

2 tablespoons freshly chopped Italian parsley

3-4 tablespoons melted butter


Soak the dried cranberries in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons of brandy mixed with 1 tablespoon of water to rehydrate.  If cranberries aren't plump when ready to use, place them in the microwave for about 20-25 seconds.  

French Bread Cubes

Slice baguette into large bite size pieces or shred with fingers, and spread out onto a large baking sheet. Dry out in the center of oven at 350 degrees, stirring occasionally, until crispy but not hard.  Remove and let cool.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Cut off the ends and peel the butternut squash.  Make sure you peel deep enough to remove all of the skin or you will not be able to slice them properly after roasting.


Cut in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.  Cut the whole length of each half into 1 inch thick sections. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, arrange the slices on top and season with salt.  Roast in the center of oven at 425 degrees until fork tender.  About 25-30 minutes. Removed from oven and let cool.  Cut into bite size cubes and measure out 1.5 cups.  

Savory Custard

Melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium-low temperature. Once simmering, add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Add the thyme branch and cook 2 more minutes.  Whisk in the chicken broth, Dijon mustard and season with the salt & white pepper. As soon as the sauce starts to bubble, remove thyme branch and scrape into a medium sized mixing bowl to cool completely.  

Sausage & Vegetables 

Add 2 tablespoons of butter to a large non stick pan over medium temperature.  Add the fennel, apple, onion and break the sausage into bite size pieces over the top.  Once things start simmering, cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until vegetable just start to soften.  Add the garlic, rubbed sage, salt & pepper and cook 1 more minute.  Remove from heat, add 1.5 cups of cubed butternut squash, pine nuts and parsley and scrape into a large mixing bowl.   Squeeze out the cranberries and add.  

Add 5 cups of the cooled, cubed baguette to the large bowl with sausage and vegetables and toss.  

Whisk the eggs, cream, salt & pepper into the cooled custard mixture.  Pour custard mixture over the top of vegetable, baguette mixture and toss several times until combined.  Let soak for about 20-30 minutes

Butter the Au Gratin dish or baking dish and pour mixture into it.  Bake in the center of oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and brush generously with melted butter. Bake for 10 more minutes, remove let cool and serve.