Sausage and cornbread dressing
You cannot have Northern dressing at a Southern Thanksgiving. You will be misunderstood and the guests will be confused.
I come upon this conundrum every Thanksgiving. My original dressing recipe is generations old, borne of ancestors of Midwestern town folk who lived in rural Illinois farming country. What is “Northern” dressing? It’s got white bread in it. That’s the first thing. And parsley. It’s good. Actually, it’s great. But it’s not Southern by any stretch.
So when I journeyed to my beloved mother-in-law, Bunny’s, for an early Thanksgiving I brought my Southern dressing. I like to fit in. It’s got cornbread in it, of course. And Tennessee Pride sausage. And I slip in some hot sauce. Don’t tell Bunny. She is not a hot sauce person. If she noticed a little bit of spiciness this year, she was far too polite to comment.
So here’s where I just refuse to get my panties in a wad. Most cornbread dressing recipes call for making your own cornbread. But why in the world would you do that when Pepperidge Farm already makes it in a bag? Thanksgiving is already stressful enough. I don’t need that kind of trouble.
- 1 pound bulk sausage
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup diced carrot
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh sage minced
- 2 cups prepared dry cornbread stuffing (such as Pepperidge Farm)
- 2 cups herb-seasoned dry stuffing (such as Pepperidge Farm)
- 1 quart chicken stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Hot sauce to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Break up the sausage in a skillet over medium high heat. Fry the sausage, breaking into small pieces, until well browned. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and reserve, keeping any remaining fat in the pan.
- Add the butter to the skillet and melt. Add the celery, carrots and onions. Cook until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add the thyme and sage. Stir to combine and cook another 30 seconds. Reserve in the pan.
- Put the cornbread and herb-seasoned dry stuffing in a bowl. Add the sausage, vegetables and gradually add enough chicken stock to make the mixture completely moist but not mushy. It should be the consistency of cooked oatmeal. Add the eggs and a few dashes of hot sauce to taste. Mix thoroughly.
- Put the dressing in a 9-by-13 casserole dish and bake for 40 minutes or until the top is nicely browned.