The night before Thanksgiving used to mean heading out to the local bar, catching up with old high school friends you haven’t seen in years, swapping stories and trying to outdo one another.
Um, no thank you.
Now the night before Thanksgivings look like this: drinking at home while cooking and preparing for the big meal the next day.
The day usually starts with a very long list and a trip to the grocery store (the order of the items mimicking the layout of the aisles). Then after a short day at work, the cooking and preparation begins!
One of the dishes I make ahead of time is my Sausage, Apple and Cornbread Stuffing. You can prepare the entire dish ahead of time and then just bake it on Thanksgiving day (once the bird comes out of the oven and frees up some prime real estate).
I made this recipe up, but I make it every year because it’s a delicious hit! Sorry vegetarians, it’s made with sausage. Though I imagine it could be made without.
Sausage, Apple and Cornbread Stuffing
1 cornbread cut into cubes (I use the Jiffy packed cornbread and combine 2 packages and make 1 Johnny cake; 3/4 of the cake goes into the stuffing, the other 1/4 goes into my mouth)
1 lb sweet sausage (casings removed)
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 granny smith apple, chopped (skin on)
2 Tablespoons thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare cornbread according to directions on package; bake both packages as one Johnnycake. Let cool. Cut into small squares.
Cook sausage in a dutch oven in a little olive oil over medium heat until browned and crumbly (I use a potato masher to break up sausage when cooking it).
Remove browned sausage into a bowl. Add onion, carrot and celery to pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until vegetables begin to soften. Add the chopped apple. Stir until apple starts to soften. Add thyme and cook 1-2 more minutes. Add a splash of chicken stock to deglaze the dutch oven. Add the cornbread cubes and remove from heat. Stir in cornbread pieces. It will break apart, but that’s ok. Once combined – don’t over mix!– empty pan into a greased casserole dish. Add a splash of chicken stock to moisten.
Bake stuffing at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes uncovered, or until the top is nicely browned.