Why It Works
- Southern-style unsweetened cornbread provides a savory base for equally savory flavorings like sausage, onion, celery, and garlic.
- Lightly toasting the diced cornbread develops its flavor quickly while helping it absorb some of the liquid ingredients.
- Keeping the unbaked dressing in the refrigerator for a day or two before finishing it in the oven helps meld and improve the flavors.
Cornbread dressing has long been a popular side on the Southern Thanksgiving table. Here, it's flavored with sage sausage, fresh herbs, and plenty of onion, celery, and garlic.
- 1 recipe Southern-Style Unsweetened Cornbread (about 2 1/2 pounds), cut into 3/4-inch dice
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 pounds sage sausage, removed from casing
- 1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
- 4 large stalks celery, diced (about 2 cups)
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup minced fresh sage leaves
- 3 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium broth, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems, divided
Adjust oven racks to lower-middle and upper-middle positions. Preheat oven to 425°F. Spread cornbread evenly over 2 rimmed baking sheets. Stagger trays on oven racks and bake until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
In large Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat until foaming subsides, about 2 minutes, without allowing butter to brown. Add sausage and mash with stiff whisk or potato masher to break up into fine pieces (largest pieces should be no bigger than 1/4 inch). Cook, stirring frequently, until only a few bits of pink remain, about 8 minutes. Add onion, celery, garlic, and sage and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1 cup of chicken stock.
Whisk remaining 2 1/2 cups chicken stock, eggs, and 3 tablespoons parsley in medium bowl until homogenous. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, slowly pour egg mixture into sausage mixture. Add cornbread cubes and fold gently until evenly mixed.
Transfer dressing to buttered 9- by 13-inch rectangular baking dish or 10- by 14-inch oval dish. The dressing can be covered with aluminum foil and refrigerated for up to 2 days at this point (the flavor will improve as it sits). When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375°F. Uncover dressing and bake until an instant-read thermometer reads 150°F when inserted into center of dish and dressing is crisped on top, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes, sprinkle with remaining parsley, and serve.
Large baking or casserole dish, 2 rimmed baking sheets, instant-read thermometer