Generally, in life, I am a carbs upon carbs upon carbs kind of gal. Which is why Thanksgiving is pretty much my dream day. Not only do I get to spend it with loved ones, but I get to eat all of my very favorite things. Top on the list of Carb Paradise is this gorgeous Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage and Apples.
As with The Great Brownie Debate (I'm in the dark fudgey camp) and The Great Cornbread Debate, (savory and cheesy, please!) stuffing is a hotly contested subject. Do you go small dice white bread with a pudding consistency? Boxed Stouffer's (so delicious)? Is yours more of a dressing because you are Southern and amazing? Is yours speckled with oysters or sausage?
These are Deep Thoughts, people!
My perfect stuffing is called, naturally, "stuffing" and begins with a double batch of my favorite (and freaky easy) Cheesy Skillet Cornbread. Only I leave out the cheese when I make stuffing and bake it in a buttered 9 x 13 pan.
Dice that golden beauty into hefty one-inch chunks, toast them in the oven and you're on the right path to carb stardom, my friend. Toss those golden toasted chunks of awesome with Italian sausage, sweet apples, and a generous handful of chopped sage and we're in business.
I could face plant into this Pre-Stuffing Situation as is, freshly mixed in a pot, without being baked with the eggy custard base. But, somehow, I usually manage to resist.
But only because I know this awaits me on the other side:
Dreams do come true, friends. They really do.
I make this for my work Thanksgiving potluck every year and it is gobbled up in nanoseconds. People might think that they are die hard white bread stuffing eaters but just wait until they get a plate of this hot mess in front of them and BAM!
Instant Cornbread Stuffing Converts.
And thus ends my November Cornbread Crusade, which began with my absolutely favorite Cheesy Skillet Cornbread, which swiftly became Butternut Squash Soup Topped with Cornbread Croutons (truly a beautiful thing, cornbread croutons).
Life is good, friends. Really good.
Cornbread Stuffing with Italian Sausage and Apples
double batch Skillet Cornbread baked without the cheese in a buttered 9 x 13 pan
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
5 sweet Italian turkey sausage links, removed from casings (I use one package Jennie-O)
2 gala apples, diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons fresh sage, minced (or 1 tablespoon dried sage)
3 eggs, whisked
2 cups chicken broth
fresh parsley, for garnish
Dice cooked cornbread into one-inch cubes and lay out on two rimmed baking pans. Toast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, flipping once halfway through. Set aside toasted cornbread to cool.
Meanwhile, put olive oil in a large pot (I used my big dutch oven) and heat on medium. Add onions and celery and cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic cloves and cook for another minute. Add turkey sausage and use a wooden spoon to break into smaller chunks. Cook for 5-8 minutes, until sausage is cooked through. Add apples, salt, thyme, and sage. Cook for 5 more minutes and turn off heat.
Remove pot from stove and carefully stir in toasted cornbread (you may need to transfer everything to a larger bowl). Drizzle whisked eggs over the cornbread and sausage mixture and stir to combine. Slowly pour chicken stock, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring so it absorbs into the cornbread.
Put stuffing in a large buttered casserole dish (I used two pans to accommodate all of the stuffing) and cover with foil. Bake at 350 for thirty minutes. Remove foil and bake for 15 minutes more. Garnish with parsley.
Serves 10-12 and recipe can easily be halved or doubled to suit your Thanksgiving crowd.