cornbread and sausage stuffing

sausage stuffingI’m going to let you guys in on a little secret.  Prior to a few years ago, I had little, if any, interest in stereotypical Thanksgiving foods.  In my family, what you might think of as Thanksgiving dinner was really more of an afterthought.  See, in true Italian fashion, we like to eat family dinners in courses; and the first course is always a pasta dish.  So while some might think of the turkey as the centerpiece around which the rest of Thanksgiving dinner is built upon, for us, Nonno’s lasagne is the real star of the show.

It wasn’t until I got much more into cooking myself that I started to rethink some of our Thanksgiving Day foods.  Up to that point, I don’t remember ever having stuffing that I liked.  Actually, I don’t remember eating much of it at all!  This recipe certainly changed all that.  We stumbled upon it a few years ago, when Daren and I hosted his sister and brother-in-law the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Since we were celebrating “2nd Thanksgiving,” we decided to think outside the box a bit.  We ended up frying the turkey, which inspired us to get a little “epic meal time” with the rest of our dishes.  Daren had seen the idea somewhere to bake and serve stuffing inside of a pumpkin.  While the idea was great in theory, we had a little trouble in the execution – namely that we decided to do it so late that there were no pumpkins to be found anywhere!  Luckily, we had already found this recipe for “Overstuffed Pumpkin” from Tyler Florence, and decided to make it anyway.

Well, let’s just say, mind blown.  I had no idea stuffing could be that good.  I’ve made it every year since.  If you like sausage in your stuffing, then this is the recipe for you.  If you’ve never had it that way, try it – you won’t be disappointed!

Ingredients

  • 1 (14-16 ounce) package cornbread stuffing
  • 2 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage, divided
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cubed
  • 2 pounds ground sausage (* you can also substitute ground sausage with sage in place of the fresh sage – I’ve done that successfully in the past)
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Pour the cornbread stuffing into a large bowl and set aside.

In a large (12-inch) skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat.  Add the onion and celery, season with salt and pepper, and saute for about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and 2 tablespoons each of the sage and parsley, and continue to cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add in the cubed apple and cook for 2 minutes more.  Add the ground sausage to the pan.  Cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until all the meat is browned, about 10  minutes.  Deglaze the pan with the white wine, allowing it to cook down for about 2 minutes to evaporate the alcohol.  Stir in the heavy cream.

Remove from the heat and pour over the cornbread stuffing.  Slowly blend in the eggs and chicken broth, stirring until the stuffing is evenly moistened.  Stir in the remaining parsley and sage.  Pour into a 9 x 13″ baking dish and bake for 20-30 minutes, until the stuffing is lightly browned on top and has a little lift from the eggs.

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator – they make for a great lunch!

Source:  adapted from Tyler Florence via the Food Network

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