Earlier this year I made cornbread for the family, to eat alongside some soup. Cornbread is not something you see often around here, and sadly, the family didn't really enjoy it as much as I had hoped. I hate it when that happens. Away into the freezer went the cornbread, until I could decide what to do with it. Last week, darling husband was arriving home from overseas, and as roast chicken is his very favourite dinner, I thought I would tart it up a little. The cornbread stuffing my sister-in-law made for us at Christmas time was playing on my mind, and so two great ideas collided. The recipe below was an improvisation on a Julia Child stuffing I found on the net, and it was great. Not too heavy or stodgy or (even worse) mysterious like most of the stuffings around here; it was light and tasty and delicious, and the leftovers were every bit as good. Because I was running late with dinner, I baked the chicken separately from the stuffing because I wanted to avoid any extra cooking time on the chicken. Is stuffing still stuffing when nothing is being stuffed? Not sure. I'll let you ponder that one.
Incidentally, the cornbread recipe was one of the 08 Barefoot Blogger Challenges that had come and gone before I joined the group. I have included the recipe for the cornbread below as well.
adapted from Julia Child's Cornbread Stuffing Recipe, on plaincook.com
5 cups cornbread, crumbled
500g sausage meat
2 cups chopped onions
1 1/2 cups celery ribs, chopped
2 cups breadcrumbs, unseasoned, lightly pressed down
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons dried sage (more if you like - I didn't use because I forgot to buy it)
120g melted butter
1 large apple, cored and diced
1/2 cup toasted pecan nuts, roughly chopped
Brown sausage meat in a pan over medium heat. Lift into a large bowl, leaving fat in pan.
Using the same pan, saute onions for 5-6 minutes (or until translucent). Add celery and saute for 2 minutes. Add the onion and celery to the sausage, along with the cornbread and bread crumbs. Combine sage and eggs, and pour into mixture. Fold in the melted butter. Season to taste.
Stuff cavity of chicken or turkey with mixture and bake according to poultry roasting times. If baking separately, place mixture in a baking pan, cover with foil, and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, maybe even less. Do not overbake otherwise the stuffing will dry out.
Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
from Barefoot Contessa at Home
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
1/3 cup chopped green onions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish, 3 scallions
3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers (I left these out although I would definitely include if we were to make again)
Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don't overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.