My husband and I traditionally celebrate our wedding anniversary by having an extravagant dinner at VOLT in Frederick, Maryland. It is the restaurant of Bryan Voltaggio, of Top Chef fame. On our 19th anniversary, we brought home an autographed cookbook after enjoying our lovely meal. Last Thanksgiving, I made two side dishes from this special book. ❤
This stuffing recipe was adapted from Home: Recipes to Cook With Family and Friends by Bryan Voltaggio. I modified the proportions and used prepared stock as well as store-bought sausage as shortcuts.
Both the cornbread and the poultry seasoning can be made days in advance, which is always helpful. It was interesting to me that the cornbread was made without a leavening agent, making it more dense than a typical cornbread. The stuffing had a deep celery flavor from the celery seed and chopped celery. Nice.
For the Cornbread:
- nonstick cooking spray
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 5 T (1/3 cup, 75g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp (9g) fine sea salt
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tsp (12g) molasses, honey, or sorghum syrup
- 1/4 tsp (0.6g) freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup (240g) buttermilk
- 1 cup plus 2 1/2 T whole milk
- 2 2/3 cups (400g) all-purpose flour
- 2 cups (276g) cornmeal
For the Poultry Seasoning:
- 2 tsp (2g) finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tsp (0.5g) finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp (1g) finely chopped fresh sage
- 1 tsp (1g) finely chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tsp (2g) ground celery seed
- 1 tsp (2g) ground coriander
- 1 tsp (2g) onion powder
- 1/2 tsp (3g) fine sea salt
- 1/2 tsp (1.5g) freshly ground black pepper
For the Topping:
- 2/3 cup (50g) panko breadcrumbs
- 2 1/2 T (25g) poultry seasoning (above)
- 2 T unsalted butter, melted
For the Stuffing:
- nonstick cooking spray
- 3 T extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil
- 4 1/2 cups (300g) freshly baked and cubed cornbread
- 1 pound loose sweet Italian pork sausage
- 2 medium onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 4 to 6 stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups chicken or turkey stock (preferably homemade)
For the Royale:
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup (240g) milk or heavy cream
To Make the Cornbread:
- Preheat the oven heat to 350 degrees F, preferably on convection. Spray or butter the bottom and sides of two 9-by-13-inch baking dishes. (One 13-by-18 inch casserole pan can be substituted.)
- Put the sugar, 5 tablespoons butter and the salt in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time, waiting until each one is fully incorporated before adding another.
- Beat in the molasses and nutmeg.
- Reduce the mixer to low speed, add the buttermilk and milk, and beat until incorporated.
- Add the flour and cornmeal, and beat on low speed until well combined.
- Increase the speed to medium and beat until the batter is well-blended and thick, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Pour the batter onto the prepared baking dishes. Tap each dish on the counter to settle the batter.
- Bake until the cornbread springs back lightly when pressed with your finger, 22 minutes on convection or up to 30 minutes in a standard oven.
- Cool completely in the dish on a wire rack.
- The cornbread may be made 3 days in advance, covered with plastic wrap, and held at room temperature.
To Make the Poultry Seasoning:
- Combine the parsley, rosemary, sage and thyme in a small bowl.
- Add the celery seeds, coriander, onion powder, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
- The seasoning can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
To Make the Topping:
- Put the panko breadcrumbs in a medium bowl and add the poultry seasoning (the remainder may be used to season gravies and other holiday dishes).
- Drizzle with the melted butter and toss with your fingers to moisten the breadcrumbs. Set aside.
To Make the Stuffing:
- Preheat the oven heat to 325 degrees F, preferably on convection. Spray a 9-by-13-inch flameproof casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Cube the cornbread and put into a large mixing bowl.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the sausage and cook, stirring and breaking it up into small pieces with the back of a spoon so it cooks evenly, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to the cornbread.
- Return the same skillet with the drippings to medium heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- Once the oil is hot, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Add the carrots and celery, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add the vegetables to the cornbread and sausage.
- Put the eggs in a blender to make the Royale. Start the blender on low-speed and mix until the eggs are just blended.
- Put the milk or cream in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and heat until a thermometer registers 180 degrees F. Add to the eggs in the blender and mix on low speed until homogenized.
- Add the egg mixture to the cornbread mixture.
- Add 2 cups of stock. Season with salt and pepper.
- Fold everything together with a rubber spatula until fully combined and the stock has mostly been absorbed. The stuffing will seem a little too wet before baking.
- Spread the stuffing in the baking dish. Lightly tap the dish on the counter to even out the mixture in the pan.
- Add the topping, letting it fall from your fingers in an even layer across the top.
- Bake the stuffing until very hot and cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes.
- Turn the broiler on high, and broil the stuffing until the crust is GBD (Golden Brown and Delicious), 3 to 5 minutes.
- Serve family-style from the casserole dish.
Note: When blending hot liquids, first let cool for 5 minutes or so, then transfer to a blender, filling only halfway. Put the lid on, leaving one corner open; this will prevent the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Cover the lid with a kitchen towel to catch splatters and pulse until smooth.