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Down-Home Cornbread Stuffing

Serves: Makes 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients:

  • Stuffing:
  • 1 recipe Herb Corn Bread (recipe below), cooled completely and crumbled
  • ½ pound thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into ¼-inch pieces
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided, plus more for greasing baking dish
  • 1 pound Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup minced yellow onion
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup minced celery
  • ⅓ cup minced fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons ground sage
  • 1½ teaspoons dried thyme, crumbled
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken, turkey or vegetable stock, or as needed


  • Herb Corn Bread:
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup medium-grind cornmeal (yellow or white)
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large shallot, very finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted


Procedures:

Stuffing is one of the most popular side dishes on the Thanksgiving table. In this recipe, the combination of rustic corn bread, tart apples, and smoky bacon will make it your family’s new favorite. To save time, prepare the cornbread 2 days in advance and assemble the stuffing up to 1 day in advance and refrigerate. Sprinkle on the stock just before baking.

Make the cornbread:

Yields 1 (9 by 5 inch) loaf

This might be a simple quick bread, but the addition of fresh herbs takes it to a whole new level. Don’t substitute dried herbs here—they won’t give you the dynamic flavor that fresh ones offer.

Preheat oven to 350°F and place a rack in the center. Lightly coat a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan with melted butter or canola oil spray and line with a piece of parchment paper that extends 1 inch beyond the edge of both sides of the pan. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pepper to blend well. Add the shallot, thyme, sage, and parsley. Whisk again to blend everything thoroughly.

In a second medium mixing bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the half-and-half and eggs. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the liquid ingredients into the well, then add the melted butter. Use a whisk to gently combine the ingredients, stirring just until the batter is homogenous and there are no patches of egg or flour. Don’t over mix or the corn bread may be tunneled with holes.

Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the center of the bread feels firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 to 50 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before turning it out of the pan (it may also be left in the pan to cool completely). Peel off the parchment paper and cut into slices, or crumble for stuffing.

Make the stuffing: Preheat oven to 300°F and place two racks in the upper and lower thirds. Arrange crumbled cornbread on two rimmed baking sheets. Place in preheated oven and bake until cornbread is slightly crunchy, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove pans from oven and allow cornbread to cool to room temperature. Place cornbread in a large mixing bowl. Increase oven temperature to 375°F.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until fat has rendered and bacon is crispy, about 10 to 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or spider, transfer bacon pieces to a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat and return skillet to medium heat. Add 6 tablespoons butter and heat until it foams. When foaming subsides, add apples, onion, pecans, and celery, stirring well to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until apples and vegetables are soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir in cooked bacon, parsley, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper. Pour contents of skillet into bowl containing the cornbread and stir well to combine.

Generously grease the inside of a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish with additional butter. Sprinkle cornbread mixture with stock, ½ cup at a time, and toss well to combine, until corn bread is moistened but not soggy. Transfer bread mixture to greased baking pan and dot top with remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Place pan in preheated oven and bake until stuffing is deep brown and crusty on top, about 50 to 60 minutes Remove from oven and serve warm.

Tested and perfected in the Sur la Table kitchen

 
 
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