Cooks’ Illustrated Cornbread Sausage Stuffing
MAKES ABOUT 12 CUPS, SERVING 10 TO 12+
In this recipe, the stuffing is baked outside of the turkey in a baking dish.
To make the stuffing a day in advance (I recommend), increase both the
stock and half-and-half by ¼ cup each and refrigerate the unbaked stuffing
12 to 24 hours. Before transferring to baking dish, let the stuffing stand at
room temperature for about 30 minutes, or until stuffing loses its chill.
For Golden Cornbread:
(Makes about 16 cups crumbled cornbread, you will only 3/4 of the recipe)
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing the baking dish
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1 1/3 cups milk
2 cups yellow cornmeal, preferable stone-ground
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
12 cups cornbread broken into 1” cubes (even crumbs), spread in an even layer on 2 baking sheets, and dried in 250 degree oven 50-60 minutes (recipe follows)3 cups homemade turkey or chicken broth or canned low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups half-and-half
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, plus extra for greasing baking dish
1 ½ pounds bulk pork sausage (not breakfast sausage), broken in 1” pieces
3 medium onions, chopped fine (about 3 cups)
3 stalks celery, chopped fine (about 1 ½ cups)
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage leaves
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
For golden cornbread:
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9” by 13” baking dish with butter.
2. Beat the eggs in a medium bowl; whisk in the buttermilk and milk.
3. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour the egg/milk mixture into the well. Stir with a whisk until just combined. Stir in the butter.
4. Pour batter into the greased baking dish. Bake until the top is golden brown and the edges have pulled away form the sides of the pan, 30 to 40 minutes.
5. Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack and cool to room temperature before using, about 1 hour.
1. Place the cornbread in a large bowl (the larger the better—the huge Tupperware works well). Whisk together stock, half-and-half, and eggs in a medium bowl. Pour over cornbread and toss VERY gently just to coat—try not to break the cubes into smaller pieces. Set aside.
2. Heat a heavy-bottomed 12” skillet over med-high heat, until hot. Add 2 Tbsp. butter and swirl to coat pan. When foaming subsides, add the sausage and cook until it loses its raw color, about 5-7 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a medium bowl. Add about half the onions and celery to the fat in the skillet; sauté, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer onion mixture to the bowl with the sausage. Return the skillet to the heat and add the remaining 6 Tbsp. butter, when the foam subsides, add the remaining celery and onions and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the thyme, sage, and garlic; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds; add the salt and pepper. Add this mixture along with eh sausage and onion mixture to the cornbread and stir gently to combine so that cornbread does not break into smaller pieces. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate to blend flavors, at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours.
3. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 10” by 15” baking dish (or 2, 9” square or 7 by 11” baking dishes). Transfer the stuffing to the baking dish; pour any liquid accumulated in the bottom of the bowl over the stuffing and, if necessary, gently press the stuffing with a rubber spatula to fit it into the baking dish. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes.