Okay… back to my belated Thanksgiving feast posts…
I struggle selecting a “stuffing” for our Thanksgiving Menu. This version was simple and perfect. I loved that it was a traditional Southern recipe and that it incorporated an unsweetened cast iron skillet cornbread.
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Kim Severson. I used medium grind cornmeal. The cornbread is made the night before so that it can harden slightly. I let the cubed white bread sit out overnight as well. We ate it without incorporating meat, but this base recipe could easily be modified to include sausage or even nuts and/or apples. The author suggested eating leftovers mixed with shredded leftover turkey as well.
Yield: Serves 8 to 10
For the Cornbread:
- 4 tablespoons/56 grams butter or bacon drippings
- 2 cups/340 grams yellow cornmeal, medium grind (use the freshest, best quality you can find)
- 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups/473 milliliters buttermilk, preferably full fat (I used low-fat)
For the Dressing:
- 3 cups soft white bread, crusts removed and torn or cut into 1-inch pieces (do not pack)
- ½ cup butter (1 stick), plus more for the pan
- 2 cups chopped sweet onions
- 1 ½ cups chopped celery (4 or 5 stalks)
- 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 ¼ tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 to 5 cups rich chicken or turkey stock, preferably homemade
- 3/4 pound pork sausage (such as spicy Italian sausage, fresh andouille or spicy Southern-style sausage)
- 2 1/2 cups of toasted pecans, chopped
- chopped apples
- Make the cornbread: Heat oven to 450 degrees, preferably on convection.
- Put butter in an 11-inch skillet. Cast-iron is best here, but any ovenproof skillet will do. Heat butter in oven for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until butter has melted and is just starting to brown.
- While butter melts, whisk together cornmeal, salt and baking powder.
- In another small bowl, lightly beat eggs, then add buttermilk and stir until mixture is combined.
- Pour egg mixture into dry ingredients and stir well.
- Remove hot pan from oven, pour butter into batter and stir until batter looks uniform.
- Pour batter back into the pan and bake for 20 minutes or until the top has begun to just brown.
- Remove cornbread and let it cool on a rack.
- Tear or cut it into large pieces and place in a large bowl. Let it sit out overnight to dry out slightly.
- Prepare the dressing: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cornbread and white bread in a large bowl, tossing to mix, and breaking cornbread into smaller pieces.
- Melt butter in a large skillet, and add onions, celery and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté until vegetables have softened, about 6 minutes.
- Add vegetables to bread mixture and combine.
- Lightly beat eggs and add to bowl.
- Sprinkle in herbs, remaining 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper and toss together.
- Add 4 cups broth and stir well.
- Using your hands, work the mixture to get a very lumpy, thick, batter-like consistency.
- Add another cup of stock if needed. The mixture should be very wet and pourable but without standing liquid.
- Butter a 2-quart ovenproof dish. (such as an 8-by-11-inch baking dish. A deeper vessel could take longer to bake; a more shallow dish less time.)
- Pour the mixture into the baking dish and bake until dressing puffs slightly and has browned well around the edges, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- If you have drippings from a roasted turkey, spoon some over the top about 30 minutes into the baking time.
- To Add Sausage: Brown 3/4 pound pork sausage in a pan, crumbling it into small pieces as it cooks. Add to the bread mixture along with the vegetables.
- To Include Nuts: Add 2 1/2 cups of toasted pecans, chopped, to the vegetable and bread mixture.
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