This crisp, rich and buttery dressing is excellent as a side dish for dinner on Thanksgiving and as leftovers the next day. Aromatics and a mix of fresh and dried herbs give it a deep savoriness. The sausage brings a flavor of its own, but you can leave it out for a vegetarian-friendly alternative. The accompanying cornbread recipe yields a result firm enough to soak up the stock and buttermilk without it turning to a pudding, but you can also use store-bought cornbread or a boxed mix. If you do, just crumble the baked cornbread and spread it out on a sheet pan in an even layer to dry for at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours before mixing it with the rest of the dressing ingredients.
- Serves: 8 persons
- 3tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
- 1tablespoon neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola, plus more if needed
- 1pound loose pork sausage
- 1large yellow onion, very finely chopped (2 cups)
- 4celery ribs, very finely chopped (2 cups)
- 4garlic cloves, minced
- 1teaspoon dried thyme
- ½teaspoon dried oregano
- ½teaspoon fennel seeds
- 2tablespoons chopped fresh sage (from 10 large leaves)
- Salt and pepper
- 1recipe cornbread for dressing, broken into 1-inch pieces, or 10 cups loosely packed cornbread
- 1 ½cups chicken, turkey or vegetable stock
- 1cup buttermilk, preferably full-fat
Step 1Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
Step 2Heat a large skillet over medium and pour in the oil. Add the sausage and cook, using a wooden spoon to break it into small pieces, until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Transfer the cooked sausage to a plate, keeping any fat in the skillet. Add a few additional tablespoons oil if needed to evenly coat the bottom.
Step 3Add the onion and celery to the skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, oregano, fennel seeds and sage, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Return the cooked sausage to the skillet and stir to incorporate. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, add the cornbread pieces and toss to combine. Pour in the stock and buttermilk, and stir until well mixed. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.
Step 4Transfer the cornbread mixture to your prepared dish and spread evenly. Drizzle the melted butter over the top. Cover the dish with foil and bake until heated through, 30 to 35 minutes. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees, remove the foil and bake until the surface is golden brown in spots, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving warm.