Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Pecans

cornbread dressing for ThanksgivingTalk about a tectonic shift. I have never made cornbread dressing for Thanksgiving. Then, all of a sudden, it was essential to me to make cornbread dressing. Perhaps it was nostalgia. Someone would bring cornbread dressing to my Grandma’s Thanksgiving, and I was always standing there with a crappy look on my face, like only a 10 year old can properly do, wanting regular bread dressing. “I don’t like it,” I would utter, having never even tried it. Perhaps my Grandma Katie made it. Perhaps my Papaw Virgil made it. Would that I could have those moments back in life, when I scoffed at the unknown. I’m better now. I could cry at the thought of so glibly insulting the gifts of such dedicated people. I knew nothing of life, then.

This is a slightly different beast than their dressing. I relish the chunks of bread and the large textural components like the sausage and pecans. I think I once felt that stuffing and dressing needed to be somewhat homogenous, appropriately wet cement that could also be used for brick making.

This is my dressing for the year. This is not the cornbread that I create for eating straight with butter. It is good, certainly. But if it weren’t my goal to make something that I would be drying out on purpose, I’d create something slightly more tender. This is the one change from my favorite Thanksgiving recipes. If you are a bread dressing person, you might enjoy my last dressing invention, Sausage and Artichoke Dressing.

tg clustersAnd, for more Thanksgiving inspiration, visit these posts from years past:

Thanksgiving Inspiration
Thanksgiving Countdown 2012
Roasted Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry Jelly and Giving Thanks
Sweet Potato Casserole
Farmstand Green Bean Casserole
Holiday Spiced Pecans
Roasted Acorn Squash Soup
The Quintessential American Apple Pie
Chocolate Pecan Pie with Cane Syrup
Heirloom Apple Cake

Self-help on dressing: Dressing is a creature of “fix as you go” cooking, an invention of dry breads and inexpensive materials. Don’t be meticulous about cleaning out the fat from the sausage. Don’t squeeze it dry with a paper towel to get out every last drop. The fat helps with the vegetables, and it adds flavor and moisture. If your dressing looks dry, add a little more broth and cook a bit longer. If your dressing still looks slightly dry, well, you haven’t yet put the gravy on top.

cornbread dressing

Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Pecans
Print
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
Cornbread
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels, divided use
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 8 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 eggs
Dressing
  • 1 (9" x 13") pan of cornbread, cubed and dried
  • 1 pound breakfast sausage
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • ½ teaspoon rubbed sage
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups chicken broth
Instructions
For the Cornbread
  1. In a small bowl combine the all-purpose flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In the container of a blender combine 1 cup of fresh corn, the buttermilk, melted butter, and eggs. Blend until smooth.
  2. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add the remaining 1 cup of corn kernels and stir to combine.
  3. Place the batter into a greased 9"x13" baking dish and spread it into the corners of the baking pan. This is a very thick batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cornbread comes out clean, about 25 to 35 minutes. (Note: You can also cook this in a larger pan, which yields thinner cornbread that dries more quickly and has crisp edges, simply watch the baking times and reduce them.)
  4. Allow the cornbread to cool completely. Cut it into 1 inch cubes and lay it on a large baking pan to dry out a bit. If you are making the dressing the same day as you bake the cornbread, you can speed up this process by placing the baking sheet into a low temperature oven and checking the cubes every five minutes until they have dried out and become slightly crisp on the edges.
For the Dressing
  1. Warm a large pot to medium-high and cook the breakfast sausage until it is well browned and cooked thoroughly. Remove the sausage to a plate. Sauté the celery and onion in the drippings from the sausage until they are softened and translucent, about five minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, toast the pecans by laying them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake until the pecans are aromatic, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add the sausage and pecans back into the pot with the onions and celery. Season with the herbs and salt. Add the cubed cornbread and stir thoroughly to combine. Taste the combination at this stage for seasoning and add additional salt, if needed.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together two eggs and 2 cups of chicken broth. Pour it evenly over the cornbread dressing and stir to combine. Transfer the cornbread dressing to a 9" x 13" baking dish and bake at 400° for 25 minutes.

Spoonful of Cornbread Dressing

Notes:

Cornbread is so very personal. Dressing is so very personal. Families have habits and traditions that go back generations and are practically built into our DNA. Writing about food has caused me to shift out of the habit mode and look at other ways of doing things. It has been an eye-opener to force myself to get out of my box of favorites and expand my worldview. But, dressing is just one of those things that we like to have the way we like to have it. What is your family’s dressing tradition…and do you ever…ever change course here and there on the things that you thought were indispensable on the holiday table?

And, as always, around Thanksgiving I want to make sure you know how grateful I am to have you visit my kitchen now and again. I am thankful for you. I wish you a peaceful week with little stress and a great deal of joy.

Comments

  1. Terry Chapman says

    Hi Kelly,
    I of course love the recipes, but I discovered something today that I really like on your site. When I hit print, it goes to a print friendly format, then I can cut out the images and save my very expensive ink cartridges. Then I can cut out all the commentary, which I enjoy immensely but choose not to keep long term in my favorite recipes book. What a great idea! Sits right up there with all the great recipes. BTW, making a Southern Living Hummingbird Cake for a very good friend. Her birthday present was a coupon of all my special desserts for her to select the one she wanted for a family holiday. Love your site. Terry

  2. Rosemary Wolbert says

    Although I love the idea of cornbread dressing, I’m afraid it just would not fly with any of my family or my husband’s. Some things are just sacrosanct for Thanksgiving (including plain ol’ pumpkin pie, no pumpkin cheesecake, no pumpkin pie bars — “Don’t mess with the pumpkin pie”!) Same goes for dressing/stuffing. Just bread, savory seasoning, celery, onions and butter, thank you. I should stop wishing for foods that aren’t there and be grateful for spending Thanksgiving with people I love — and I am.

  3. Kelly says

    Smart woman. Brilliant actually. I quite like the idea. I’ll put that in my thinking file for next year when I re-invent the wheel yet again. Thanks. I’m kind of craving it right now.

  4. Roadrunner says

    My mom always makes the cornbread dressing with all the veggies puréed in a blender because my dad doesn’t like to know he’s eating them.

    It’s actually quite wonderful and I find myself craving it frequently.

  5. Kelly says

    DGibbs, you know I love ANY plans that get things done ahead of time. Great tips…especially getting the table business taken care of.

  6. Kelly says

    Juli, I love this! And, I can envision the flavors just thinking about it. And it tastes like comfort and going home.

  7. DGibbs says

    My mom always made the cornbread dats ahead of time (and left out sugar, if recipe called for it.)When cool, crumble and leave out lightly covered. Toss the crumbs when you think of it. Nice and dry and it gets one thing done ahead of time! ( I’ve set the DR table up to a week early, too.)

  8. Juli says

    Kelly, my mother has always doctored up the raw version she buys from Luby’s in WF. More onions, salt, pepper and sage. This has been a Taylor tradition for 40+ years. We’ll be having it again this year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title="" rel=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>