Both of the following Thanksgiving stuffing recipes were made with ingredients from a local grocery store.
Cornbread stuffing with sausage and apple
1 (8.5-ounce) box corn-muffin mix(see note)
1/3 cup milk
1 pound uncooked (sweet) sausage
3 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 cup chopped parsley, divided
10 to 15 sprigs fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, diced
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with aluminum foil so it overhangs the dish by at least 3 inches; spray the foil with cooking spray. Prepare cornbread according to package directions with the egg and the milk. Pour into dish, spreading batter evenly to all four corners, and bake 15 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then lift out foil and cool cornbread to room temperature.
2. Break up cooled cornbread into irregular olive-size pieces and spread pieces on a baking sheet. Toast in 400-degree oven until they dry out, about 10 minutes, but watch closely so they don't get too dark. Set aside.
3. Squeeze sausage out of casings and cook in a large skillet over medium heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. When it has lost all its pink color, remove from heat, transfer sausage to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside to cool.
4. Pour out excess sausage drippings and add 1 tablespoon butter and all the vegetable oil to pan. Add diced onion, celery, half the parsley, the thyme and the sage to the skillet, season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are soft and translucent but have not started to brown, about 10 minutes. Add diced apple and cook 5 minutes, or until it's tender. Remove thyme sprigs.
5. Transfer vegetable mixture to a large bowl and combine with the drained sausage and the remaining parsley. Taste for salt and pepper. (At this point, you can refrigerate the bread-less stuffing for up to a day, bring to room temperature and proceed with recipe on Thanksgiving.)
6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine vegetable-sausage mixture with cornbread and spoon into a greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Pour broth over stuffing, cover dish with foil and bake until heated through, 20 to 40 minutes. Remove foil for last 10 minutes to get stuffing crisp on top. Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Note: 1 box of mix makes 4 cups of cornbread pieces. You can substitute 4 cups of store-bought cubes, if you prefer.
Most supermarkets sell mixed-variety packages of trimmed and sliced
mushrooms. We used a mixture of oyster, cremini (Baby Bellas) and shiitakes.
1/2 ounce dried mushrooms
1 (14-ounce) package of cubed herb-seasoned stuffing (see note)
1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups low-sodium canned chicken broth
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
1 large rib celery, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped, divided
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound mixed variety of mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1. To rehydrate dried mushrooms, place in a heatproof measuring cup and cover with 1/2 to 1 cup very hot water. Soak mushrooms for about 1/2 hour and up to 2 hours. When you are ready to make the stuffing, lift the mushrooms out of the liquid with your fingers to leave any unwanted debris behind. Rinse mushrooms quickly in cold water, squeeze dry, chop and set aside. Strain the soaking water through a fine-mesh sieve or coffee filter and reserve.
2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Empty the package of stuffing mix into a bowl large enough to accommodate all the ingredients. Put the mushroom-soaking liquid and enough broth to make 2 1/2 cups into a saucepan. Add 1 stick butter, cover pot and simmer until butter melts. Turn off the heat and set aside.
3. In a large skillet, preferably nonstick, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add the celery, sage, thyme and 2 tablespoons of parsley and onion. Saute until the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. If you find the pan is too dry, add butter or vegetable oil. When the vegetables are done, scrape them into the bowl of dry stuffing.
4. In the same skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add the fresh mushrooms and saute until they give up most of their moisture. Add reserved dried mushrooms and cook off most of the liquid, then scrape mushrooms into the bowl of stuffing. Add the pecans and mix all ingredients thoroughly.
5. Pour the broth-butter mixture into the bowl and combine well until all the liquid is absorbed by the bread cubes. Put the stuffing into a lightly buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 1/2 hour. If you like your stuffing with a crusty top, remove the cover and bake 10 minutes longer. Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Note: You can certainly use unseasoned cubes of dried bread for this stuffing; if you do, make sure you season the celery-herb-onion mixture and the fresh mushrooms with salt and pepper.