Nothing screams Thanksgiving more than Cornbread Sausage Dressing. And this recipe gets me started on the prep of what is probably my favorite meal of the year to prepare. Maybe that is because I have it 90% done before the day arrives. I enjoy the process.
In 2014, the New York Times wrote a story The United States of Thanksgiving. I grew up in Kentucky and was surprised to see patty dressing being Kentucky’s featured recipe. They said it was because of hunting season opening on Thanksgiving day (I do remember that) and the men liked to tuck a patty in their pocket for the field. This is not how I remember it. In fact, I knew no other Kentucky friends whose families made patties. Kentucky friends? Speak up!
I did, however, attribute it to my mother’s intense need to have everything organized and done ahead. This makes so much sense. Mama’s always right! You know how many pieces you have. They freeze individually so work great when left over. They are moist….and even have a little dent for some turkey gravy.
My other favorite thing about this recipe is the making of the cornbread. Hot cornbread crust slathered with butter on a cool autumn day weeks before the big day. What? I thought you were making it for the dressing. But, you see I don’t like all the crust in the finished product. So I trim the side edges and it becomes the cook’s treat. It’s a moment, and a Thanksgiving highlight….just me alone in my kitchen with a childhood memory.Forgot to take photo of cornbread sans side crusts…it was delicious! Can’t wait for next year!
P.S. The cornbread recipe will become your go-to recipe for chili, pinto beans, etc….nothing better hot from the oven! Love my Southern roots and cornbread with NO sugar.
Cornbread: Preheat the oven to 425. Combine cornmeal, egg, and melted shortening. Add buttermilk to achieve a batter consistency. Let stand for 5-10 minutes and add more buttermilk to return to heavy batter-like consistency.
Preheat 10-inch skillet on top of stove. Add 2-3 TBS fat (bacon or shortening). When very hot, pour mixture into pan and transfer to preheated oven to bake for 20-25 minutes or golden.
Dressing: Melt butter or shortening in cast iron skillet. Sauté onion and celery until soft and translucent. Set aside.
Combine crumbled cornbread and stuffing mix. Toss with salt and pepper. Add cooled vegetables. Add eggs and sausage, combining well. Add chicken or turkey stock to achieve a fairly mushy mixture. It should still hold together. Stir in baking powder and sage. Add more stock in necessary. *The amount of stock necessary is dependent upon the staleness of the cornbread....several cups are usually needed.
Shape into patties making an indentation in the center. This is for a touch of gravy before serving). Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees.
Mary James dishes it out! Make the cornbread ahead. Crumble it up and leave it covered with a towel on the counter overnight before either proceeding with recipe or freezing.
When adding the stock, make sure dressing is very moist. The patty should hold its shape but not be too stiff.
Dressing patties can be made weeks ahead and frozen on a cookie sheet. Then remove, bag and freeze. Remove from the bag while they are still frozen and place on baking sheet. Thaw. Bake as directed.
Neese's Country Sausage is a Greensboro, NC product that I swear by....Yep! I swear by it. It has great flavor with not too much fat. You can choose regular, hot, or extra sage. Neese's can be purchased online at http://www.neesesausage.com. Or if a NC friend is headed your way....stock up. Or perhaps you have your own local favorite.