While stuffing may not be the star of the show, it’s nearly always the fan favorite. I know it's certainly my favorite part. It’s everything I love combined into one giant casserole, or better yet cooked right inside the turkey itself. But as much as I love it, I also secretly love that for whatever reason, it has mostly remained a Thanksgiving-only dish. I hate to think of any part of the meal becoming monotonous if we served it more often.
This is a really, really tasty take on stuffing with a little bit of a Southern spin. Its base is cornbread, and it's filled with sausage, bell peppers, celery, onions, corn, and lots of those fresh herbs more traditionally associated with Thanksgiving. It’s spicy and a little sweet, with great depth of flavor from all the vegetables and different herbs.
It’s a recipe from a local fruit and flower farm called Hurd Orchards. The family-owned farm puts on seasonal tastings, dinners, and teas for the public, showcasing the (literal) fruits of their labor. Hurd Orchards is a special gem of a place in Western New York that reminds me to be appreciative of the bounty of fresh and delicious food at our disposal, especially at Thanksgiving time.
Cornbread and sausage stuffing
Mostly unchanged from Hurd Orchards Thanksgiving Tasting Menu
Yields about 12 servings
3 T butter
2 cups diced sweet onion (about 1 onion)
1 cup diced red pepper
1 cup chopped celery
2 cups corn (thawed, if frozen)
2 T minced garlic
1 T salt, divided
½ lb ground spicy Italian sausage
3 cups chicken stock
½ cup heavy cream
1 T chopped parsley
1 T finely chopped sage
1 T finely chopped rosemary
1 T finely chopped thyme
Freshly cracked black pepper
8 cups cubed and toasted cornbread (I made 2 boxes of Jiffy cornbread, sliced it into cubes, measured 8 cups worth, spread them out on a cookie sheet and toasted on Low Broil for a couple of minutes)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Brown sausage until fully cooked, breaking it up into smaller chunks if needed. Remove sausage and set aside for now. Add butter to the pan and swirl to coat. Sauté onions, peppers, and celery for about 6-7 minutes until onions are translucent. Then stir in corn, garlic, 1 tsp salt, and pepper, and cook for a couple minutes longer. Remove vegetables from pan, and let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, chicken stock, cream, herbs, remaining 3 tsp salt, and pepper. In an 11x13 inch baking dish, mix together the vegetables, sausage, and cornbread cubes, and spread evenly in dish. Pour cream mixture evenly all over. Cover with foil and bake on middle rack for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 20-25 minutes until top is crusty and stuffing is set. Serve warm, and save the leftovers which are even better reheated a second time.