Dressing is one of the best dishes on the Thanksgiving table. Dressing, which isn’t stuffed inside the turkey, is often called stuffing by habit, and is prepared in a casserole dish on the side. In my family, Cornbread Dressing is a big tradition because of our southern roots. The Bell family is originally from Arkansas, even though my grandparents moved to Southern California in their young twenties, and we still hold on to some of those traditions.
I start by baking the cornbread from scratch with just a touch of sugar, giving it a savory corn taste, and then I combine it with egg or brioche bread, sausage and apples for a rustic fall flavor. The inherent Thanksgiving flavors are delicate with a slight crunch on top after baking. Sage, thyme and fresh parsley play an herbaceous role in the combination, and the sweet sausage adds another note to the dish, that builds with the right blend of ingredients.
This Dressing is definitely my favorite part of the meal and I’m sure I will have a few guests in agreement. You can prepare this dish a day ahead and bake in the oven just before dinnertime, and yes, it goes marvelous with a slice or two of roast turkey.
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup fine cornmeal
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 loaf egg bread
1 pound sweet sausage, pork or turkey
1 onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 apples, cored and diced
2 teaspoons dry ground sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 quart chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh parsley
salt & pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a stand mixer or large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda, mix for 1 minute. Add eggs, milk and oil and mix for 1 minute on low until combined. Pour into a 9 x 9 greased baking pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Remove and let cool to room temperature.
2. Dice egg bread and cornbread into large chunks and place on two separate sheet pans. Bake in oven until golden brown, about 18-25 minutes. Remove and cool.
3. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add sausage and cook for 5 minutes, while breaking apart with spoon. Add diced onion, celery, sage, thyme, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, stir to combine. Continue to cook for 4 minutes.
4. Add diced apples and stir to combine. Pour in 2 cups of chicken broth and stir, cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
5. In a large bowl, add toasted egg bread, then add sausage mixture and toasted cornbread. Toss entire mixture together until combined. Pour in remaining broth and parsley, toss again. Pour into a greased 8-quart casserole dish and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, remove foil and bake again for 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Serve immediately, Enjoy!