Since childhood, Thanksgiving has truly been about one thing for me. Stuffing. Stuffing has always been my favorite Thanksgiving side dish, and frankly, the only thing I absolutely MUST have during the holiday. I guess, living in New England, that is pretty typical!
My mother used to make a big production out of her stuffing, baking her own bread and blending her own sausage. Preparations would begin at least a week ahead of the holiday. She may have gone a bit overboard…..
When my husband and I hosted our first Thanksgiving, we agreed that the turkey would be the star, but the stuffing was a close costar. Every year, we make two stuffings; one that is gluten free, and one regular. Since I can’t eat the gluten full version, that is more reminiscent of my husband’s childhood stuffing. It has the traditional crouton base, savory herbs, mushrooms, bacon, and duck fat. However, the gluten free version, is where I get to recreate the tastes of my childhood.
I don’t go quite so far as my mother in making my own sausage, but I do make my own cornbread. From a mix, lol. I’ve tried a bunch of the gluten free cornbread mixes, and think Bob’s Red Mill is the best. I will normally mix up enough to make the stuffing, and some cornbread muffins for the table.
With the stuffing base set, I add in my flavorings. We are lucky enough to live next to an amazing local shop that makes amazing Italian sausage. If you aren’t so lucky to have a local place near you, any sweet Italian sausage will do. I add in McIntosh apples, craisins, and traditional thanksgiving herbs to finish it off. The result is a side that hits every flavor sensation. Best of all? It doesn’t take a week to prepare!
Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing
- 6 cups gluten free cornbread, cut into cubes This can be bought, or homemade. I like using the Bobs Redmill mix.
- .5 lbs sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 3/4 cup chopped celery this is about 1-2 stalks
- 1 McIntosh Apple, chopped and peeled
- 1 tbsp finely chopped sage
- 2 tsp fresh thyme, off the stalk
- 2 tsp fresh rosemary, off the stalk
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup craisins this is optional, feel free to add more if you like!
- 1 cup chopped onion
- Salt & Pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large skillet, cook the sausage until browned (about 5 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, remove sausage from the pan, and set aside.
- Using the same pan, with rendered fat from the sausage, cook the onion and celery. Add in about 2-3 tbsp of water to deglaze the pan (it helps to scrape the pan with a wooden spoon when you do this). Let the onions and celery cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the celery has softened. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Remove from pan, and add to the sausage you have set aside.
- In a large casserole dish, toss together the egg, cornbread, apples, craisins, and the sausage mixture. In a small saucepan, gently simmer the chicken broth and fresh herbs. Using a wooden spoon, toss the stuffing mixture as you slowly pour the chicken broth and herbs over it. Do this 1/4 of a cup at a time. You may not need to use all of the broth; stop if it looks like it is getting too soggy.
- Cover casserole dish in tin foil, and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for another 25, until the top is crisp and brown. Let rest for 10 minutes, then serve.
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