Cornbread Stuffing or Dressing with Sausage, Apples and Pecans
This is a delicious and easy cornbread stuffing recipe. I use Italian sausage and seasonings, but you can use any fresh sausage or seasonings that you prefer. Start with fresh cornbread, like my recipe in the similar and related recipes links, and dry it in the oven or use packaged dried cornbread crumbles and skip that step. I always prefer to bake my stuffing in a separate casserole dish, in which case it is really a dressing. However, this can be used to stuff a bird. Do not overfill the bird, placing extra in a baking dish, and be certain to roast the bird long enough for the stuffing to reach a safe temperature of 180° F.
- Homemade or store-bought fresh cornbread, coarsely crumbled, about 8 cups (see recipe in the similar and related links)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound mild Italian sausage, bulk or links, casings removed
- 6 tablespoons butter, plus 3 tablespoons
- 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 2 large celery ribs, chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons dried sage leaves
- 1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
- 1 large granny smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (more if needed)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 300° F. Place the crumbled cornbread on a large baking sheet and bake until slightly dried, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, then the sausage. Brown, breaking apart with a large spoon, about 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Remove the grease from the pan, return pan to medium heat, and add 6 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onions and celery; season with a little salt and pepper. Sauté until softened, about 10 minutes, scraping up browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic, fennel, thyme, sage, apples and pecans. Sauté until apples are tender, about 5 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease a 13x9x2-inch baking dish with spray or butter. Place the cornbread and sausage in a large bowl. Add the cooked vegetables, cheese and parsley. Stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper and herbs as desired. Deglaze the pan over high heat with the wine and 1 cup of broth. Add to the cornbread mixture and stir well to combine. If it appears too dry, add a little more broth. Place in the baking dish, dot with the 3 tablespoons of butter, and cover with foil. Bake until hot, about 60 minutes. Remove foil and bake until lightly browned on top, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately, or cover with the foil and keep warm until needed.