Thanksgiving has come and gone and here I am offering you a stuffing recipe like some sort of confused time traveler. I’m posting this partly because I’m evangelical about this stuffing and partly because I never write down the recipe and so each year I’m stuck reinventing the cornbread stuffing wheel. Years ago I thought I had written it down but when I referred to my notes the only thing I had written was “this is just like Martha Stewart’s recipe except I changed most of it.” Thanks, past me, for being an ass.
This year I took notes as I went along and thought I’d post it here so I’d have a recipe to share and one for me to refer to when the need for stuffing next arises. Of course technically this is not stuffing. I know. It’s dressing. I do not at any point stuff it inside of an animal, nor will I ever, but in my family we refer to it as stuffing because it takes the place reserved for such a course in our Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner(TM). Cooking a turkey properly is already fraught with peril and I see no reason to add a possible salmonella outbreak to the mix.
Corn bread is really the best part of this stuffing. It gives it character and complexity and a bit of sweetness to an otherwise quite savory dish. It makes a rich meal richer and ever since I started making it this way I get requests for it every year. I can only imagine that if I were to change recipes even my sweet 94-year-old-grandma would join my family in flipping the over the Thanksgiving table and starting a bar fight right there in my parents’ living room. Stuffing –the right stuffing–is sacred.
The first thing you’ll need to do to make cornbread stuffing is make the cornbread. Ideally you’ll make it a day or two ahead of time, slice it into chunks and let it sit out so it becomes dry. Don’t worry if you forgot that step, I almost always do. You can cook it, slice it, and dry it in a 375 degree oven for fifteen minutes or so so it becomes crisp. I have, on occasion, skipped that step entirely when running late and the stuffing was a bit more like a spoon bread or polenta than a corn bread, and it was still delicious.
This recipe serves about 12 people.
- one package of cornbread mix prepared and baked according to package instructions
- 2 tbs butter
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 8 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 8oz package of mushrooms, sliced
- 8 fresh sage leaves or 3 tsp dried, I used a mixture of both
- 4-5 cups chicken stock
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 bunch parsley leaves, chopped
- 1 cup toasted slivered almonds
- 1 cup dried cranberries
– Melt the butter in a large skillet, the largest one you have. Cook the onions, celery and mushrooms over medium heat for about ten minutes.
– Add your sage, stir to combine, and cook for three more minutes.
– Add one half cup of stock, stir, and cook for about five more minutes. The liquid should reduce in volume by about half.
– Turn off the stove and combine these vegetables with the remaining ingredients in a very large bowl. Mix gently and carefully, as it will be hot, until well combined.
(At this point I portioned my stuffing into two bowls and took them to my parents’ house. They kept very well this way for a couple hours before I was able to add the rest of the stock and bake them in the oven. Just in case you plan on doing something similar, this would be the place to pause the recipe and all will be well.)
– Transfer stuffing into a large, oven-safe bowl and pour over the remaining stock. Mix to combine.
– Heat oven to 375 degrees and cook for 20-25 minutes until warmed through. What you are doing at this point is warming everything up because all your cooking is already done. You can change the temperature a bit, say to either 400 or even 350 degrees, so you can pop it in the oven next to your green bean casserole or sweet potato pie with no ill effects. Just keep an eye on it.
After eating a stuffing like this all you will want to do is sit on the couch, undo the top button on your pants, and contemplate putting up Christmas decorations.