It seems impossible that in more than seven years of food blogging, I've never shared with you our family's favorite cornbread stuffing with sausage and raisins. It's not a secret, it's not wild and crazy, it's not vegetarian. It's just plain good. You do have to make cornbread, from scratch, and you can do that way in advance, even weeks in advance, and stick it in the freezer. Okay, you can buy cornbread in the bakery department at your supermarket, and the stuffing will still be really good. Just please don't use that cornbread stuffing mix from a bag, because it's packed with sugar and salt and additives, and because it takes only minutes to make your own. For the spicy sausage, I love Beef Hot Links, which pack a load of jalapeño pepper; you can use your favorite spicy turkey sausage, or andouille, anything with a good kick. If your family loves sausage more than cornbread, add the higher amount of sausage in the recipe, or even more than that. This is a stuffing that bakes in the oven, not in the turkey.
Cornbread stuffing with sausage and raisins
Serves 8; can be multiplied.
For the cornbread:
1 cup corn meal (I use Kenyon's stone-ground corn meal)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
Scant 5 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg
1-1/4 cup nonfat (skim) milk
1/4 cup vegetable or other neutral oil
Baking spray (like Baker's Joy or PAM with flour)
For the stuffing:
6 cups stale cornbread (1 full pan of cornbread), cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 medium onions, diced
3/4 cup chopped celery
2 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1/4 cup chopped flat-leave parsley
1/4 cup diced scallions
1/2 cup golden raisins
12-20 oz hot smoked sausage (I like Beef Hot Links), to taste
1-1/2 cups chicken broth (homemade or low-sodium store-bought)
1 large egg
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
Make the cornbread: Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray an 8-inch square pan with baking spray and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a large measuring cup, combine the egg, milk and oil, and beat with a fork. Pour the egg mixture into the cornmeal mixture, and stir together just until the ingredients come together. Do not over mix. Bake 20-25 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let the cornbread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then pop it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. If you're going to make the stuffing right away, when the cornbread is cooled, cut it with a serrated knife into 3/4-inch cubes.
Make the stuffing: Preheat oven to 425°F. Spread the cornbread cubes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the cornbread is completely dried out and slightly browned. Remove from the oven, and toss the cornbread into a large mixing bowl. Reduce oven heat to 375°F.
In a large nonstick frying pan, melt the butter over low-medium heat. Add the onions and celery, and sauté for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
Add the herbs, scallions and raisins, and cook for 5 minutes, until the raisins plump slightly. Remove from heat and pour the mixture over the bread cubes. Return the empty pan to the stovetop.
Cut the sausage into 1/4-inch dice (if using Hot Links, cut each link into fourths lengthwise, then slice into 1/4-inch quarter-rounds). Add the sausage to the frying pan. If you're using very lean sausage, you might need to add 1 tsp of oil. Over medium heat, brown the sausage slightly. Pour the cooked sausage over the cornbread mixture, along with any oil in the pan.
In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine the chicken broth, egg, salt and pepper. Beat together lightly, and pour over the cornbread mixture. With a rubber spatula or large spoon, stir all of the ingredients in the bowl together, until everything is evenly moistened.
Butter a 9x13 casserole dish (or any dish approximately that size, in any shape), and transfer the stuffing to the casserole. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Then, uncover the dish, and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the top is lightly crispy.
More ways to use cornmeal:
Roasted red pepper, basil and parmesan johnnycakes, from The Perfect Pantry
Polenta mini pizzas, from The Perfect Pantry
Brown butter rosemary orange cornbread, from Joy the Baker
Honey-sweetened corn muffins, from gfe--gluten free easily
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