This savory Cornbread Stuffing with Sage Sausage and Apples will make a fantastic addition to your Thanksgiving menu.
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My boys can depend on me for a variety of things. You know, the usual mom stuff like reminding them of appointments and birthdays and saying things like “Text me when you get there” and “You were planning on ironing that shirt before you go out, right?”
But on Thanksgiving they depend on me for something of the utmost importance; something that one should never take lightly. It’s a big deal, folks.
I’m talking about stuffing.
Each Thanksgiving I pull out my slow cooker and cook up a big batch of my mama’s unbelievable Traditional Bread Stuffing. Although I might have a revolt on my hands if I didn’t conduct business as usual again this year, it dawned on me that you all might like another option. After all, there’s a big world of stuffing possibilities out there. Life is good!
One of the most delicious options, as far as I’m concerned, is cornbread stuffing.
Especially when it’s studded with savory sage sausage and sweet apples and drizzled with turkey gravy. It’s truly a fabulous flavor combination.
A couple of things that you should know about this recipe.
It makes a lot. When I create holiday recipes I am under the assumption you are feeding a group. But here’s the deal with stuffing, at least in my family – everyone loves it! So to be sure you’ll have leftovers, I highly recommend splitting this recipe between two baking dishes – one great big one for your gathering and one smaller dish to tuck away in your refrigerator for later. Nobody will be the wiser and you’ll have a fresh batch of stuffing to go along with your leftovers the next day.
The other important note is that although I baked my Rustic Sweet Cornbread for this post, you can absolutely substitute. Bake your cornbread from an easy boxed mix or purchase a prepared cornbread from the store if you’d like.
As with any stuffing recipe, the first step is to dry out the bread. Some folks do this by leaving it out overnight but I prefer a quick turn in the oven while I’m cooking the sausage and chopping my veggies.
Cube your cornbread and a loaf of soft white French bread and spread the cubes out between two rimmed baking sheets. Pop them in a 325 degree oven until lightly toasted. Watch closely and remove the baking sheets when the bread is lightly toasted. The cornbread will take a bit longer than the French bread since it has more moisture.
While the bread is toasting away, cook and crumble your sausage and chop your onion, celery, carrot, apple, and garlic.
Melt two sticks of butter (yes, two full sticks) in a very large sauté pan or Dutch oven. This may seem like a lot of butter but I promise you, it’s necessary, we’re making a great big batch of stuffing here. Add the chopped veggies, apples, fresh chopped parsley, salt, pepper, and plenty of dry herbs. Other than the parsley, I prefer using dry herbs when I make stuffing since they are more intense, more economical, and always in my pantry. Cook this mixture until the veggies are tender but not browned.
Once those bread cubes are nice and toasty, pull them from the oven and transfer them to a large roasting pan or other large container.
Add the seasoned, sautéed veggies and apples and 1 pound of cooked and crumbled sage sausage. I used Jimmy Dean.
Add 2 lightly beaten eggs and mix well and then add as much low-sodium chicken broth as you need to reach the desired consistency. Some people love it really moist as if it has been cooked in the bird, while others prefer a more crumbly texture. It differs for everyone but I’ve included my recommendations on the recipe below.
Transfer the stuffing to a large baking dish that has been coated with non-stick cooking spray, cover the dish with foil, and bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 5 to 10 minutes of the baking time if you’d like a crisped top.
And, that’s it, friends. Delicious, down-home Cornbread Stuffing with Sage Sausage and Apples that will make an impressive addition to your Thanksgiving menu.
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- 1 recipe Rustic Sweet Cornbread (see recipe note below for substitutions)
- 1 (1 pound) loaf soft white French bread
- 1 pound fresh pork sage sausage (I use Jimmy Dean)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
- 3 cups diced onion (approximately 2 onions)
- 3 cups diced celery (approximately 1 bunch)
- 1 heaping cup peeled and diced crisp sweet apple (1 good sized apple)
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
- 2 teaspoons dried sage
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided and as needed
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Slice the cornbread and then cut into small cubes. Slice the loaf of French bread and then tear the slices into bite-size pieces. Discard the end pieces or save for another use. You should have 8 to 9 cups each of the cornbread cubes and French bread pieces or 16 to 18 cups total, give or take. Spread the cornbread cubes on a large rimmed baking sheet, crumbling some of the cubes into smaller pieces. Add the pieces of French bread to a separate baking sheet. Bake both for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly toasted. The cornbread will require more time in the oven then the French bread since it has more moisture.
- Meanwhile, add sausage to a large sautè pan over MEDIUM heat. Cook, stirring to break up, and continue to cook until no longer pink. Use a slotted spoon to transfer sausage to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Pour off any grease from pan and wipe down with a paper towel. Return the pan to the heat and add the butter. When melted, add the onion, apples, celery and carrot. Turn the heat up to MEDIUM-HIGH and cook, stirring frequently, for about 7 to 10 minutes or until veggies and apple are fork tender. Add garlic and parsley and cook and stir for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sage, poultry seasoning, thyme, marjoram, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine. Remove from heat.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a very large baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. (Note: stuffing can be split between two dishes).
- Transfer toasted cornbread and French bread to a large roasting pan or very large mixing bowl. Spoon the vegetable and apple mixture and the cooked sausage over the bread and mix well. Add the beaten eggs and stir to combine. Add 2 cups of the chicken broth and stir well. If you are making this a day ahead, stop here and refer to Make-Ahead Instructions below. If baking right away, add additional chicken broth, a little at a time, until you've reached the desired consistency. Stuffing will dry out a little bit as it cooks but you don't want it to be too wet going in to the oven. I don't recommend adding more than a total of 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 cups of chicken broth.
- Transfer stuffing to the prepared baking dish(s) and cover with foil. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees F for 40 to 50 minutes. For a crispy topping, remove the foil during last 15 minutes of baking time, or place under the broiler for a couple of minutes before serving.
- Make as directed but after you've added 2 cups of the chicken broth transfer the stuffing to the prepared baking dish. Cover the dish with foil and refrigerate overnight or until ready to bake. Cover and refrigerate the remaining chicken broth for later.
- When you are ready to bake the stuffing, remove the dish from refrigerator and allow it to sit out for about 30 minutes to take the chill off. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the foil and drizzle the stuffing with additional chicken broth as needed to reach desired consistency. Bake as directed in recipe above.
To save yourself some prep time, chop the veggies a day in advance and package them up in plastic storage containers or bags and refrigerate until ready to prepare the stuffing. Hold off on chopping the apple until you are ready to prepare the stuffing.