Friday, October 09, 2015

the comfort of thanksgiving

Now that it's officially autumn, relaxed beach visits of the summer are a distant memory as we start to seek the warmth and comfort of the season.  If the beginning of September is a symbolic way to hit the restart button as we dive into new school routines, then October, especially during the Thanksgiving season, is when we start settling into the comfort zone.  It's when we really reflect our home, and our busy world surrounding it.

It's been an interesting time as I've started spend more time offline than online.  The summer was a refreshing start to cleanse any old baggage and start the school year with fresh eyes and settle into a new routine.  The quest to disconnect for most of the summer meant that I could enjoy much more deeply, what is most meaningful in our family.  And I think I like this new focus.

The heart is where the home is, and there is something very comforting about the food made for holidays like Thanksgiving that speaks to my heart.  Certain scents like turkey in the oven that make a house smell like a home, and all the love of family gathered together for this special time.

I generally don't make stuffing as it's on the list of things that my Mom brings for our annual Thanksgiving dinner.  (she makes an excellent rice/sausage/bread stuffing...I need to get that recipe!).
However, on a whim, I decided to make this corn bread stuffing to go with a chicken dish.  It's a hybrid of various dressing recipes, and although I love my Mom's rice stuffing, this is quickly becoming a favourite too (especially since there are many corn bread lovers in this house).

To all my family, friends and Canadian readers...

Happy Thanksgiving weekend!!!

Cast Iron Skillet Corn Bread Sausage Stuffing

You can purchase premade cornbread for this recipe.  I made two batches of cornbread from scratch in my cast iron skillet (using this cornbread muffin recipe, here). One batch was used for this recipe and the other one I froze to enjoy at a later date.

  • 1 pan cornbread (8-inch square), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 8 slices white sandwich bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I used 3 dinner loaves...white, pumpernickel and whole grain).
  • 4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces (I used honey garlic maple sausage 500 g package or one or two 375g package of breakfast sausages)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced small
  • 2 stalks celery, diced medium (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I used roasted garlic)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves (1 tsp. dried sage)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 3/4 cups chicken broth (I used turkey broth)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Coarse salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup of dried cranberry (to taste...I used about ¼ cup)
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
  • Spread cornbread and bread on two rimmed baking sheets and bake until dry and golden, about 20 minutes. (you an do this ahead of time...just place toasted bread in a sealed ziplock bag for up to 2 days).
  • Meanwhile, in a 10" cast iron skillet, cook sausage over medium until fat is rendered and meat is browned, about 5 minutes. 
  • Add onion, roasted garlic and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in sage and transfer to a large bowl. (I used a stock pot...didn't have large enough bowls!)
  • Add toasted cornbread & bread, eggs, broth, parsley, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to bowl and toss until combined. Let sit 5 minutes, then toss again, this time with the cranberries (if using).
  • Spoon stuffing back into the cast iron skillet. 
  • Bake until top is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.