Growing up in the northern part of the Midwest, on a farm in South Dakota, I can truthfully say that the only times I ate cornbread was in restaurants. It just wasn’t a feature in our recipe boxes filled with the comfort of our very German heritage. But that doesn’t mean that I never liked cornbread, because I surely do. I like it alot, in fact.
A few years ago, I ate my very first bite of cornbread dressing. And I was sold. It was so good! So last Thanksgiving, when we hosted dinner for my parents and sister’s family, I went searching for a cornbread dressing recipe. This Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Pecans was one of my favorite dishes set on the table to accompany my husband’s perfectly smoked turkey. It’s delish, and I hope you like it, too!
This dressing is rich and savory, with a touch of sweetness from the cornbread. I baked up an easy pan of Jiffy cornbread mix, but you could use your own favorite cornbread recipe for this as well. With turkey and potatoes and gravy, I really like having a Thanksgiving dish that lends some sweetness to the plate. I think the sweet is what draws our kids to this dressing, too, because both of them asked for seconds. Well, the sausage doesn’t hurt, either. We’re big sausage fans here.
I also like all the different fresh herbs in this dish, and the little crunches of toasted pecans. If that all sounds good to you, too, I think this recipe could be even a little more generous with those items. Adjust accordingly to your own personal preferences.
I’d love to know what kind of dressing (or did you have stuffing?!) you grew up with. And what you like to make, now that you have your own kitchen. I grew up with both dressing and stuffing, made from bread or croutons, and it usually had raisins in it. How about YOU? Please share!
Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Pecans
Yield: 8-10 servings
- 1 lb. day-old cornbread, torn into 1-1/2'' to 2'' pieces (I stirred together 2 packages of Jiffy mix, and baked it in a 9''x13'' pan for about 20 minutes.)
- 1 lb. pork breakfast sausage
- 3/4 c. (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for coating the baking dish
- 2-1/2 c. chopped yellow onions
- 1-1/2 c. sliced celery
- 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
- 3 c. low-sodium chicken broth, divided
- 1-1/4 c. chopped toasted pecans
- 1/2 c. chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 T. chopped fresh sage
- 1 T. chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 T. chopped fresh thyme
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 250°. Butter a 9'' x 13'' baking dish and set aside. Scatter cornbread in a single layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Bake, stirring often and rotating sheets halfway through, until dried out, about 40 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool. Transfer to a very large mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, cook sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up into 1/2'' to 1'' pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer to bowl with cornbread but do not stir.
Return skillet to heat and add the butter. Then add onions and celery and cook, stirring often, until softened and just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add to cornbread in bowl.
Return skillet to heat. Add vinegar; cook, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan, for 1 minute. Pour into bowl with cornbread. Gently fold in 1-1/2 cups broth, pecans, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Add salt and pepper. Let cool.
Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk remaining 1-1/2 cups broth and eggs in a small bowl. Fold gently into cornbread until thoroughly combined, taking care not to mash cornbread (mixture will look wet). Transfer to prepared dish, cover with foil, and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of dressing registers 160°, about 40 minutes. To brown and crisp up the top, place under the broiler for a minute or two.
Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Bake as directed and then uncover and let cool. Cover and chill. Before serving, bake dressing, uncovered, until set and top is browned and crisp, 40-45 minutes longer (if chilled, add 10-15 minutes).
Adapted from bon appetit, November 2012.