Michael & Bryan Voltaggio’s Cornbread Stuffing

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.

Yield: 10 servings

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:

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, waiting until each one is fully incorporated before adding another.
  4. Beat in the molasses and nutmeg.
  5. Reduce the mixer to low speed, add the buttermilk and milk, and beat until incorporated.
  6. Add the flour and cornmeal, and beat on low speed until well combined.
  7. 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.
  8. Pour the batter onto the prepared baking dishes. Tap each dish on the counter to settle the batter.
  9. 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.
  10. Cool completely in the dish on a wire rack.
  11. The cornbread may be made 3 days in advance, covered with plastic wrap, and held at room temperature.

To Make the Poultry Seasoning:

  1. Combine the parsley, rosemary, sage and thyme in a small bowl.
  2. Add the celery seeds, coriander, onion powder, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
  3. The seasoning can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

To Make the Topping:

  1. 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).
  2. Drizzle with the melted butter and toss with your fingers to moisten the breadcrumbs. Set aside.

To Make the Stuffing:

  1. Preheat the oven heat to 325 degrees F, preferably on convection. Spray a 9-by-13-inch flameproof casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Cube the cornbread and put into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat.
  4. 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.
  5. Return the same skillet with the drippings to medium heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  6. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent, about 3 minutes.
  7. 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.
  8. Put the eggs in a blender to make the Royale. Start the blender on low-speed and mix until the eggs are just blended.
  9. 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.
  10. Add the egg mixture to the cornbread mixture.
  11. Add 2 cups of stock. Season with salt and pepper.
  12. 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.
  13. Spread the stuffing in the baking dish. Lightly tap the dish on the counter to even out the mixture in the pan.
  14. Add the topping, letting it fall from your fingers in an even layer across the top.
  15. Bake the stuffing until very hot and cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes.
  16. Turn the broiler on high, and broil the stuffing until the crust is GBD (Golden Brown and Delicious), 3 to 5 minutes.
  17. 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.

Pasta with Sausage, Basil, & Mustard

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mom’s out there! ❤ I have a moment to share a recipe with you while my husband is making our celebratory pancake breakfast. 🙂

This is another dish from Food and Wine magazine’s 40th Anniversary Special Edition titled “Our 40 Best-Ever Recipes.” I’ve already made it twice because my son is obsessed! 😉

The recipe for this quick, easy and very tasty dish was adapted from British cookbook author Nigel Slater. I used a combination of sweet and hot Italian sausages. Fabulous!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente; drain.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet. Add the sausage meat and brown over moderately high heat, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and simmer, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the cream, mustard and crushed red pepper and simmer for 2 minutes.
  5. Remove the skillet from the heat, add the pasta and basil and toss to coat. Serve at once.

Quick New Orleans Red Beans & Rice

This quick recipe results in a full-flavored replica of a classic version that has simmered for hours. I served it to my family for our past two Mardi Gras feasts- followed by a mandatory King Cake, of course! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from David Guas, a New Orleans native and chef-owner of Bayou Coffee Bar and Eatery in Arlington, Virginia, via The Washington Post.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 8 ounces smoked, cooked pork sausage
  • 2 15-oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 7-8 scallions, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 2-3 stems flat-leaf parsley, leaves minced
  • about 1-2 tsp coarse salt, to taste
  • 1 cup white Basmati rice cooked in 2 cups chicken stock, for serving
  • hot sauce, for serving, optional
  1. Cut the sausage in half lengthwise, then slice into half-moons.
  2. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.
  3. Add the sausage and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring a few times, so some of its fat renders. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to a shallow bowl.
  4. Add the diced bell pepper, onion, scallions, and garlic to the rendered fat in the pot; stir to coat.
  5. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook for 2 minutes, stirring, until just softened.
  6. Add the beans, stock, thyme, bay leaves, black and cayenne peppers.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium; cover and cook for 25 minutes.
  8. Uncover and remove the bay leaves and thyme sprig stems with a slotted spoon.
  9. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash about 1 cup of the beans against the side of the pot, or until desired thickness is achieved.
  10. Return the sausage to the pot. When heated through, stir in the parsley.
  11. Serve hot, over cooked rice, with hot sauce, as desired. I have served it in individual bowls topped with a scoop of rice or in a serving dish over rice.

Pasta with Kale, Sausage, & Mushrooms

This quick weeknight dish makes kale a crowd-pleaser. 🙂 It was fabulous.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Latt. I used my CSA red kale instead of black kale and I doubled the mushrooms and the garlic. I also modified the cooking sequence. This recipe could easily be adapted to make a vegetarian version by omitting the sausage.

  • 1 bunch red or black kale, washed, ribs removed
  • 1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausages
  • 8 oz (½ pound) shiitakes mushrooms, washed, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz  pound) cremini mushrooms, washed, thinly sliced
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
  • 4 shallots, peeled, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken stock or pasta water
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 1 pound pasta (spaghetti, ziti, penne, or fusilli) (I used La Molisana Pantacce Toscane, 106)
  • 1 T Kosher salt for the pasta
  1. Sauté with olive oil or grill the sausages to put a crust on the outside, drain on a paper towel, cut into 1/4-inch rounds, then set aside.
  2. In a hot pan lightly brown the kale with the olive oil and remove.
  3. Add the mushrooms, shallots, and garlic; sauté until lightly browned.
  4. Turn down the heat to medium. Return the kale to the pan along with the sausages, stock, and butter. Braise for 15 minutes. The liquid should reduce by half.
  5. Taste and adjust the seasoning with sea salt and pepper.
  6. Meanwhile, make the pasta in boiling salted water, drain, reserving 2 cups of the pasta water, drizzle with olive oil, season with sea salt and black pepper, toss.
  7. Add the cooked pasta to the sausage mixture, toss to coat with the sauce. Serve with grated cheese.

Breakfast Sausage, Egg & Cheese Muffins

These moist, protein-packed, and full-flavored muffins are a wonderful savory breakfast. A full meal in a muffin! I love how they looked when they were sliced in half too. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living, inspired by the legendary Rebel Within muffin from the San Francisco bakery Craftsman and Wolves. Next time, I would slightly increase the salt in the batter (as directed below). We also sprinkled the cut side of each egg with salt prior to serving.

Yield: 9 standard muffins

  • 11 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon canola oil, divided, plus more for brushing (optional)
  • 8 ounces breakfast sausage or sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, about 8 or 9)
  • 1 cup finely shredded Asiago cheese (4 ounces)
  1. Prepare an ice bath. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Carefully add 9 eggs; boil 6 minutes. Transfer to ice bath until cool enough to handle, then carefully peel and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

  2. In a medium skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high. Add sausage and cook, stirring to break up, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate; let cool slightly. Chop into pea-size pieces.

  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection. Line 9 cups of a standard 12-cup muffin tin with baking cups, or lightly brush with oil.

  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.

  5. In another bowl, whisk together remaining 1/2 cup oil, sour cream, 1/4 cup water, and remaining 2 eggs.

  6. Stir wet ingredients into dry until just combined.

  7. Fold in sausage, scallions, and 1/2 cup cheese. (Batter will be thick and dough-like.)

  8. Fill each prepared muffin cup with 2 tablespoons batter. (I used a small cookie scoop- 2 level scoops in each.) Nestle a cooked egg in each.

  9. For each cup, scoop 2 more tablespoons batter (or 2 cookie scoops) and flatten it slightly to form a disk. Cover egg with disk; gently press to seal.

  10. Sprinkle tops of each muffin with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

  11. Bake until golden, about 22 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes in tin, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

  12. Slice each muffin in half, sprinkle exposed egg with salt, as desired, and serve.

I’m bringing my “meal in a muffin” to share at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #168 this week, co-hosted by Petra @Food Eat Love and Lina @Lin’s Recipes. Enjoy!

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Pressure Cooker Pork Ragu with Pappardelle

I made this dish to celebrate Valentine’s Day with my meat-loving husband. ❤ One of his absolute favorite dishes is a pork ragu served over pappardelle; this dish is a wonderful weeknight version.

This recipe was adapted from the Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen. We ate it with roasted asparagus and cauliflower with a custardy French Apple Cake for dessert. My Valentine was pleased! 🙂

Yield: 8 servings

  • 3 links (about 8 ounces) sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 lb. boneless pork shoulder, trimmed (I used country rib meat)
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn, plus more for garnish, if desired
  • 1 lb. pappardelle pasta
  • freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
  1. In pressure-cooker pot on medium-high, cook sausage in oil 5 minutes or until fat has rendered, breaking up meat as it cooks.
  2. With slotted spoon, transfer to large bowl.
  3. Season pork all over with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  4. In batches, add pork to pot; cook 4 minutes or until browned on two sides, turning once halfway through. Transfer pork to bowl with sausage.
  5. To pot, add carrots, onion and garlic; cook 8 minutes, stirring often.
  6. Add wine; cook 3 minutes.
  7. Return meat to pot and add tomatoes, milk, bay leaves and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  8. Cover and bring up to pressure on high. Reduce heat to medium-low, maintaining pressure. Cook 20 minutes. Remove from heat; let pressure release naturally.
  9. Meanwhile, cook the pappardelle according to the package directions.
  10. Uncover cooker and discard bay leaves. Fork shred the pork. Stir in basil.
  11. Serve tossed with pasta, garnished with Parmesan.

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Southern Cornbread Dressing

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

Optional Additions:

  • 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
  1. Make the cornbread: Heat oven to 450 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. 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.
  3. While butter melts, whisk together cornmeal, salt and baking powder.
  4. In another small bowl, lightly beat eggs, then add buttermilk and stir until mixture is combined.
  5. Pour egg mixture into dry ingredients and stir well.
  6. Remove hot pan from oven, pour butter into batter and stir until batter looks uniform.
  7. Pour batter back into the pan and bake for 20 minutes or until the top has begun to just brown.
  8. Remove cornbread and let it cool on a rack.
  9. Tear or cut it into large pieces and place in a large bowl. Let it sit out overnight to dry out slightly.
  10. 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.
  11. Melt butter in a large skillet, and add onions, celery and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté until vegetables have softened, about 6 minutes.
  12. Add vegetables to bread mixture and combine.
  13. Lightly beat eggs and add to bowl.
  14. Sprinkle in herbs, remaining 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper and toss together.
  15. Add 4 cups broth and stir well.
  16. Using your hands, work the mixture to get a very lumpy, thick, batter-like consistency.
  17. Add another cup of stock if needed. The mixture should be very wet and pourable but without standing liquid.
  18. 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.)
  19. 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.
  20. If you have drippings from a roasted turkey, spoon some over the top about 30 minutes into the baking time.

Notes:

  • 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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