Can you believe it’s already almost time for Thanksgiving? This year is just flying by at warp speed. I feel like it was only yesterday that I was running through strawberry fields in California. But no, that was summer and now here I am bundled up in a sweatshirt planning our Thanksgiving menu.
This might be sacrilegious to some but I’ve never really been into turkey. I mean, it’s fine but I don’t get excited about it. For me, the best part of Thanksgiving dinner is all of the dishes that surround the turkey. Mashed potatoes. Sweet potatoes. Cranberry relish. Green bean casserole. Rich, fabulous gravy. Stuffing. And let’s not forget dessert. All more exciting than turkey. This year one of the many dishes I’ve created is an Italian sausage cornbread stuffing recipe. It’s both savory and sweet and tastes amazing when mixed with everything else on the Thanksgiving dinner plate (and I know I’m not the only one mixing everything together with each bite)! Even the turkey!
- 6 cups cornbread (your favorite recipe), cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 12 ounces pre-cooked mild Italian sausage, sliced
- 1 large yellow onion, diced (approximately 2 cups)
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- ½ tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, chopped finely
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1½ cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1 cup half and half (or 50% whole milk + 50% cream)
- 1 egg
- Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Distribute the diced cornbread evenly on a baking sheet and allow it to dry out in the oven for 45-50 minutes. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the sausage. Cook for several minutes, allowing the pieces to caramelize. Once they are nicely browned, move them to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Drain some but not all of the fat from the pan and then add the diced onion and celery with a pinch of salt. The liquid from the vegetables should help loosen up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan; stir those in with the vegetables. Cook for several minutes on medium heat until the onions are slightly caramelized. Add the garlic, thyme and sage and cook for another minute before removing from the heat. Stir in the salt and pepper.
- Whisk together the chicken stock, half and half and egg. Pour the mixture over the cornbread. Add the sausage as well as the vegetable mixture and fold the ingredients together. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the ingredients to chill in the refrigerator for one hour.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9x9 inch baking dish and distribute the stuffing ingredients evenly. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the top is golden brown.