Confession: I have never roasted a whole turkey or been the cook in charge of Thanksgiving! Shocker I know, but the meal has always been taken care of by the other fabulous foodies in the fam- I typically bring a side and/or a cheese platter. We alternate Thanksgiving every year between families, but when we spend the Holiday with my Cavender cousins, my grandmother (aka Nonny) and Aunt Kelly steal the show. Every year they set the buffet with a plethora of delicious dishes, often heirloom recipes handed down over generations. Nonny makes a traditional bread dressing inspired by her Long Island born mother's recipe. It's classic and amazing! Dallas bred Kelly, on the other hand, makes the tastiest Southern style cornbread stuffing I've very had. While I love both, I'm a sucker for cornbread and peppers, so I'm sharing Kelly's recipe here. It's the perfect medley of flavors and textures: a blend of sweet and spicy peppers, moist cornbread, crunchy pecans, fresh herbs, and savory sausage- YUM. Kelly's recipe calls for jalapeño corn bread, but If you prefer a milder version, you can make it with plain cornbread instead (just make sure its not the sweet type). You can also just sauté a seeded jalapeño with the peppers if you can't find jalapeño cornbread but do like some heat. Also- I forgot to buy Italian sausage the other day and so subbed in 1/2 lb diced smoked andouille and it was fabulous!! I let the sausage cook with all the vegetables to render some fat and and flavor- the resulting stuffing had a yummy Cajun spin! This dish can be assembled right up until drizzling the cream, wrapped well and frozen until you need it. Just thaw it completely and proceed with the cream and baking as written. Go ahead and make it week ahead and check it off your list! This sensational side is always a hit at our family's Thanksgiving table: I can't wait to STUFF myself next week! Happy Thanksgiving!
prep time: ~25 min. cook time: 25 min serves: 8-10
1/2 lb raw mild or hot Italian sausage
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 tbsp minced fresh sage
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp chopped basil
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1-8" square pan prepared jalapeño cornbread, crumbled (use plain for a milder dish)
1/8 loaf French bread, coarsely crumbled (about 2 cups)
1 cup toasted whole pecans
ground black pepper
1 to 1-1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 375° and grease a 9" X 13" glass or ceramic baking dish (*the stuffing is shown halved in above image). Brown the sausage in a large, deep skillet over medium heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. When fully cooked through, remove the sausage to a paper towel lined plate with a slotted spoon. Drain off grease and return the skillet to the stove.
Melt the butter in the same pan over medium heat and add the onion, celery, and bell peppers. Add the sage, dried oregano and a pinch of salt and sauté 7-10 minutes, until the vegetables have softened.
Transfer the sausage and vegetable mixture to a large bowl. Add the corn bread, french bread, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, parsley, basil, pecans and 1 cup stock and toss with a spoon to evenly combine. Check for seasoning. If the mixture seems dry, add the remaining stock. Pour the contents of the bowl into the greased baking dish and spread in an even layer. *The stuffing can be assembled up to this point, wrapped and frozen. Thaw completely and proceed with following step when ready to bake. Drizzle the cream evenly over the stuffing then set in the oven to bake 20-25 minutes, until hot and lightly browned on the top.