cornbread stuffing with sausage, fennel, and pear
Growing up I wasn’t a huge stuffing person. I know, gasp. I was more concerned with green bean casserole, mashed potatoes (it was always my job to make them, so I made them exactly how I wanted), and this, like, sweet potato-cornflake-bake thing my mom found the recipe for in a newspaper clipping from the 50s. But my mom spent days drying out the bread, getting everything chopped perfectly, always mixed in a VERY specific wooden bowl, and everyone lost their shit over it. I swear it’s the most polarizing dish and people are either completely obsessed with it or indifferent. But I would say most people fall into the former category. It took me a while to really dial in what it was about stuffing (also, for the record, even though we never stuff it in the bird anymore it will always be known as stuffing) that wasn’t doing it for me.
For one, I’m not a huge fan of celery and it seems like it’s in every goddamn stuffing recipe, making the whole thing taste like celery. Two, I have found that I prefer some kind of meat in my stuffing—preferably sausage—because it adds unctuousness to a dish. Yeah, I said unctuous, I’m a douchebag. Regardless, fat is an important component to dishes. When you have a stuffing recipe that’s literally bread, onion, celery, egg and fat free canned broth, it just lacks the flavor and texture that some animal fat can bring. And third, I’m really a textures girl. You’re going to lose me if the prevailing texture is somewhat soggy bread and some bits of onion. I want balance! and meat! and spice! and crunch! and maybe something sweet, I don’t know, I’m just spitballing here.
This recipe combines all the things I want: hot italian sausage for a little spice and fat, fennel for crunch, a little pear for sweetness, and lots of butter. Oh, and the cornbread is my favorite cornbread recipe ever. It makes more than what the recipe calls for, so I usually just snack on it on the side. Hope this recipe checks all your boxes in the way it does mine! Happy almost Turkey Day!
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.
Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage, Fennel, and Pear
- 1 1/2 cups (225g) all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (80g) yellow cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons (25g) sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan (optional)
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika
- 1 1/4 cups (275g) whole milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 sticks (170g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup sliced green onions (optional)
- 4 cups cubed cornbread, dried out overnight or in the oven
- 2 hot italian sausage links, casings removed
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 fennel bulb, diced
- 1/2 cup diced pear (try to select a slightly firm pear, I like d'anjou or comice or bosc)
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons herbs de provence or poultry seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 8x8 baking dish. In a medium bowl mix together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, parmesan and paprika (if using). Add milk and eggs and mix until combined. Add green onions (if using) and melted butter and fold until all the butter has been incorporated. Spread cornbread mixture in greased baking dish and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool to room temperature before cubing.
- Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F and grease a medium sized baking dish (8x8 or so). In a medium skillet or nonstick pan, cook the sausage over medium heat, breaking it up into small pieces, until browned. Remove the sausage from the pan, add the butter, onions and fennel and cool, stirring regularly, until caramelized and golden brown. Add the chopped pear and cook for 2 more minutes. In a large mixing bowl mix together cubed cornbread, sausage, onion, fennel, pear and all the pan juices. In a small bowl, whisk together the chicken stock, eggs, salt, pepper, and seasoning. Pour the egg mixture over the cornbread and gently fold until all the ingredients are combined and the cornbread is moist. Transfer to greased baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, uncover and increase heat to 400 and bake until golden brown on top.
You can use store bought cornbread for this recipe if you don't want to make your own. This recipe makes more than necessary for the cornbread, I just like to have extra on hand for eating. The cornbread cubes should be dry before being used in the stuffing. You can either cube them and let them sit out overnight or toss them into a 275 degree oven on a baking sheet until dry.