I loved that this recipe used buttermilk to moisten the stuffing- in addition to the more typical stock and butter. The sausage was not overpowering in the finished dish but added great flavor. I used locally made sweet Italian sausage with fennel seeds- perfect.
This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Yewande Komolafe. The sausage could be omitted for a vegetarian version. The original recipe notes that if store-bought or boxed mix cornbread is used, it should be crumbled and and spread out on a sheet pan to dry for 4 to 12 hours prior to assembling the dish. I made the accompanying cornbread recipe, which does not require drying time, two days prior to making the dish.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
For the Cornbread:
- 8 T/115 grams/1 stick unsalted butter, melted, plus more for brushing the pan
- 1 1/2 cups/250 g medium-coarse yellow cornmeal
- 3/4 cup/114 g all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup/55 g granulated sugar
- 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 2 cups/470 milliliters buttermilk, preferably full-fat (I used low-fat)
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
For the Dressing:
- 3 T unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
- 1 T neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola, plus more if needed
- 1 pound loose pork sausage (I used sweet Italian sausage)
- 1 large yellow onion, very finely chopped (2 cups)
- 4 celery ribs, very finely chopped (2 cups)
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 T chopped fresh sage (from 10 large leaves)
- coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 recipe cornbread for dressing, broken into 1-inch pieces, or 10 cups loosely packed cornbread
- 1 1/2 cups chicken, turkey or vegetable stock
- 1 cup buttermilk, preferably full-fat (I used low-fat)
To Make the Cornbread:
- Heat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
- Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch skillet, preferably cast-iron, and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. (I weighed the dry ingredients when possible.)
- Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk and eggs. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to stir until incorporated.
- Fold in the melted butter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared skillet and smooth the top.
- Bake until the top is lightly browned and the sides pull away cleanly from the skillet, about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Cool completely and serve warm or room temperature, or reserve to make cornbread dressing.
To Assemble & Bake the Dressing:
- Heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
- Heat a large skillet over medium and pour in the oil.
- Add the sausage and cook, using a wooden spoon to break it into small pieces, until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink, about 8 minutes.
- Transfer the cooked sausage to a plate, keeping any fat in the skillet. Add a few additional tablespoons oil if needed to evenly coat the bottom.
- Add the onion and celery to the skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes.
- Add the garlic, thyme, oregano, fennel seeds and sage, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Return the cooked sausage to the skillet and stir to incorporate. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, add the cornbread pieces and toss to combine.
- Pour in the stock and buttermilk, and stir until well mixed. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.
- Transfer the cornbread mixture to your prepared dish and spread evenly.
- Drizzle the melted butter over the top.
- Cover the dish with foil and bake until heated through, 30 to 35 minutes.
- Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees, remove the foil and bake until the surface is golden brown in spots, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving warm.