- 2 recipes Country Cornbread, prepared 1 day ahead and left, loosely wrapped, at room temperature, about 12 cups
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 lbs. bulk pork sausage
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 s onions, chopped
- 6 ribs celery, chopped
- 1 dried cherries or dried cranberries
- 1 pitted prunes
- 4 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried sage,
- 1/4 fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 2 s defatted chicken broth, preferably homemade
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350°. Cut cornbread into 1-inch cubes. Should have about 12 cups. Place cubes in large bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons thyme, and salt and pepper; toss well. Spread cubes out on two baking sheets. Bake until slightly toasted, 15 minutes. Return cubes to bowl.
Meanwhile, cook sausage in non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking meat up with spatula, until cooked through and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. (Pour off fat if too much accumulates during cooking.) Using slotted spoon, add meat to bowl with cornbread (breaking meat up more if necessary).
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and butter in heavy saucepan. Cook onions and celery over medium-low heat, stirring until wilted, 10 minutes. Then stir in cherries and prunes, and cook another 5 minutes. Fold mixture into cornbread.
Using rubber spatula, toss remaining 2 tablespoons thyme, sage, and parsley with cornbread. Slowly drizzle in broth, 1/2 cup at a time, until stuffing is moist to your liking. Adjust seasonings to taste. Cool completely to room temperature before stuffing turkey.
Yield: 16 cups; enough for 20 to 24-lb. turkey.
Note: Can be cooked in oven-proof dish, covered, at 350° 20 to 25 minutes.