01 09 10

search you little tarte

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bread or Cornbread: That is the Question

I'm a cornbread girl.  It's funny because I would have never pegged myself as a cornbread lover.  I usually go for the very sophisticated artisan breads and scoff when a mediocre baguette is served in a restaurant.  But there's something about the crumbly texture of cornbread that's, I don't know, comfy.  And isn't that what Thanksgiving is all about?

All of this is not to say that I don't think bread stuffings can be tasty as well.   I love the recipes that cater to my need to have "interesting" bread.  Olive bread, focaccia,  peasant, these breads can all make really special additions to the Thanksgiving spread. The plain white bread?  Not so much. The whole wheat bread?  Not so much either.

So, you ask, what makes a great stuffing?  I think a great stuffing is a lot like throwing a great party.  It's all in the details.  No one talks about a party where the table is set with paper plates and the food is brought out in disposable casserole dishes.  No.  We all kvell (that's oohing and aahing for the non Yiddish speakers among you) over the pretty napkins and flowers and the presentation of the food.  Now, in the case of stuffing, the details that make the difference are the ingredients.  Stuffing is one of those foods where the more ingredients the merrier.  More is more and more is better.  Lots of chopped celery and onions, herbs, sausage or oysters, if you're so inclined, even some fruit and nuts. And, don't be afraid to use that homemade chicken stock, if you have it on hand.  You can use the boxed stock, but hey this is a holiday.  Go for it.   Think of stuffing as a party in a casserole dish. Everybody is there mingling and they're all having a great time.

And, don't be afraid to experiment.  If you find a bread stuffing that sounds good but, like me, you go for cornbread, switch it up. The nice thing about stuffing, and Thanksgiving in general, is that everything works.  As long as you get the turkey cooked properly, everything else is up for grabs.

Speaking of Mr. Butterball,  some people like to cook their stuffing in the bird and some outside of the bird.  I go for the outside the bird approach because it leads to a crispier stuffing and a properly cooked turkey.  But, if you love the cooked in the bird stuffing, who am I to judge?

So, get ready to throw yourself a party in a casserole dish.  You can even start the party a day or two before Thanksgiving.  The flavors will all mingle together in the refrigerator.  And, you'll get to start celebrating early.

Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing

2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 pound sausage meat
8 cups cornbread (recipe follows)
2 large red Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (about 3 cups)
2 celery stalks, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 teaspoon leaf thyme, crumbled
2 teaspoons leaf marjoram, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon salt
14 teaspoon pepper
1/2 - 3/4 cup chicken stock

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine cranberries, water and sugar in a medium size saucepan. Bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Drain well.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Saute sausage in a medium size skillet, breaking it up into small pieces, until lightly browned and no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Drain excess fat.  Combine with cranberries in the bowl.  Add cornbread, apples, celery, onion, and seasonings to cranberry sausage mixture.  Add enough chicken stock to slightly moisten the mixture.  Toss gently to mix.

Spoon stuffing into a greased shallow 4 1/2 quart baking dish. Bake, covered in aluminum foil, for 45 minutes, or until heated through.  Uncover for last 10 minutes for a crispy top.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375.  Butter a 9-inch square cake pan.

Sift together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.  In another bowl, whisk the milk, sour cream, oil, and egg.  Fold into the flour mixture; do not over mix.  Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool.  Break into large crumbles for the stuffing.

Herb and Apple Stuffing
(Ina Garten, 2003)

16 cups 1 inch bread cubes, 2 baguettes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups medium diced yellow onion (2 large)
2 cups medium diced celery (3 large stalks)
2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and large diced
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds, toasted, optional

Preheat the oven to 300.

Put the bread cubes on a 13x18x1 inch baking sheet and bake them in the oven for 7 minutes.

Raise oven temperature to 350.

In a large saute pan, melt the butter and add the onion, celery, apples, parsley, rosemary, salt and pepper. Saute for 10 minutes, until the mixture is soft.

Combine the bread cubes and cooked vegetables in a large bowl and add the chicken stock and almonds, if desired.  Gently combine.

Place the stuffing in a large buttered casserole dish and bake at 350, covered in foil, for about 45 minutes, or until heated through. Remove foil and bake 10 more minutes for a crispy top.

1 comment:

  1. Yummm! I love cornbread stuffing because I like the combination of the savory turkey with (slight) sweetness of the stuffing.
    Love ya!