It all starts with good cornbread. And nothing screams Thanksgiving more than Cornbread Sausage Dressing. This is my favorite Thanksgiving recipe. It and gravy…who could ask for more?
In 2014, the New York Times wrote a story The United States of Thanksiving. I grew up in Kentucky and was surprised to see patty dressing being Kentucky’s featured recipe. They said it was because of hunting season opening on Thanksgiving day (I do remember that) and the men liked to tuck a patty in their pocket for the field. This is not how I remember it. In fact, I knew no other Kentucky friends whose families made patties. Kentucky friends? Speak up!
I did, however, attribute it to my mother’s intense need to have everything organized and done ahead. This makes so much sense. Mama’s always right! You know how many pieces you have. They freeze individually so work great when left over. They are moist….and even have a little dent for some turkey gravy.
My other favorite thing about this recipe is the making of the cornbread. Hot cornbread crust slathered with butter on a cool autumn day weeks before the big day. What? I thought you were making it for the dressing. But, you see I don’t like all the crust in the finished product. So the side edges are trimmed and become the cook’s treat. It’s a moment, and a Thanksgiving highlight….just me alone in my kitchen with a childhood memory.
CORNBREAD SAUSAGE DRESSING
- 2-3 TBS BUTTER
- 1 EXTRA LARGE ONION chopped
- 1 1/2 CUPS CELERY chopped
- 1 RECIPE CORNBREAD Recipe below
- 1 8-oz BAG PEPPERIDGE FARM HERB-SEASONED STUFFING
- 1-2 TBS SAGE
- 1 TSP BAKING POWDER
- 1 LB. NEESE'S COUNTRY SAUSAGE, uncooked
- 2 EGGS
- 3-5 CUPS TURKEY or CHICKEN STOCK *
- 2 CUPS SELF-RISING WHITE CORNMEAL
- 3-4 TBS SHORTENING or BACON FAT melted and cooled
- 1 EGG
- 1-2 TBS SHORTENING for skillet
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine cornmeal, egg, and melted shortening. Add buttermilk to achieve a batter consistency. Let stand for 5-10 minutes. Add more buttermilk to return mixture to batter-like consistency.
Preheat 10-inch iron skillet on top of stove. Add 2-3 tablespoons fat (bacon or oil). When very hot, pour batter into pan and transfer to preheated oven to bake for 20-25 minutes. Turn out and serve. When making for Cornbread Sausage Dressing, crumble cornbread and leave on the counter one or two days to dry out. This allows for more broth to be added when making dressing, adding more flavor.
- Melt butter in skillet. Sauté onion and celery until soft and translucent. Set aside.
- Combine crumbled cornbread with stuffing mix. Stir in baking powder and sage. Add cooked vegetables. Add eggs and uncooked sausage. Mix well (I use my hands). Add chicken or turkey stock to achieve a fairly mushy mixture but it should still hold together. Thin with more stock as necessary. The amount of stock is dependent upon the staleness of the cornbread. Several cups are usually needed.
- Shape into 24 equal sized patties. Weigh complete batch, divide by 24, and use scale. Typically patties weigh 90-100 grams each. Got lucky today with exactly 100g!!
- Place on half sheet pan (13x18) lined with reusable pan liner...4 across and 6 down. Could be frozen at this point. Freeze on pan, then bag. When ready to cook, place on pan before thawing.
- Make an indentation (for a touch of gravy before serving) in the center. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees.
- Make the cornbread ahead. Crumble it up and leave it covered with a towel on the counter overnight before either proceeding with recipe or freezing.
- When adding the stock, make sure dressing is very moist. The patty should hold its shape but not be too stiff.
- Dressing patties can be made weeks ahead and frozen on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, remove from sheet, and bag. To cook, remove from the bag while they are still frozen and place on baking sheet. Thaw. Bake as directed.
- Neese's Country Sausage is a Greensboro, NC product that is phenomenal. I swear by it. It has great flavor with not too much fat. You can choose regular, hot, or extra sage. Neese's can be purchased online at http://www.neesesausage.com. Or if a NC friend is headed your way....stock up. Or perhaps you have your own local favorite.
- The cornbread recipe will become your go-to recipe for chili, pinto beans, etc....nothing better hot from the oven! Love my Southern roots and cornbread with NO sugar.