Get out of your usual cornbread dressing rut and try this hearty version featuring chorizo sausage, butternut squash, mushrooms, fennel, and cilantro. This could almost be a one-dish holiday meal.
1 butternut squash (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb.)
2 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 onion (6 oz.)
1 red bell pepper (8 oz.)
1 fresh fennel head (9 oz.)
1 pound mushrooms
1 pound chorizo sausage (see notes)
1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 large eggs
1 cup fat-skimmed chicken broth
Cornbread (recipe follows)
How to Make It
Peel and seed squash. Cut into 1-inch chunks; you should have about 3 cups. In a 3- to 4-quart pan over high heat, combine 1/2 cup water with brown sugar and the squash. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring once, until squash is almost tender when pierced, 8 to 10 minutes. Uncover and cook, occasionally stirring gently, until most of the water is evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat and let cool.
Peel and chop onion. Rinse, stem, seed, and chop bell pepper. Rinse fennel and trim off and discard base of head and tough stalks. Chop enough fennel to make about 1 cup. Rinse mushrooms and slice 1/4 inch thick.
Squeeze sausage from casings and break into chunks into a 12-inch frying pan or 5- to 6-quart pan over medium-high heat; stir often until lightly browned and crumbly, 7 to 10 minutes. Pour sausage into a wire strainer to drain; discard fat.
Preheat oven to 350°. Add butter to unwashed pan over medium-high heat; when melted, add onion, bell pepper, and fennel and stir often until vegetables begin to soften, 7 to 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and stir until limp, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sausage, cilantro, sage, and thyme. Add squash.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and broth. Break cornbread into 1/2-inch chunks and drop into bowl. Add sausage mixture and stir gently to combine. Scrape dressing into a buttered 9- by 13-inch baking dish and cover with foil.
Bake until hot in the center, 40 to 50 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is crisp and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes longer.
Cornbread: Preheat oven to 400°. In a bowl, mix 2 boxes (8 1/2 oz. each) corn muffin mix, 3/4 cup milk, and 2 large eggs until blended but still slightly lumpy. Pour batter into a buttered 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Bake until top is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cornbread cool in pan on a rack.
Choose lean chorizo in natural casings or, if available, in bulk without casings. You can prepare the dressing through step 4 up to 1 day ahead; cover and chill chorizo mixture, and store cornbread airtight at room temperature. Before continuing with step 5, let chorizo mixture stand at room temperature about 30 minutes.
I have made this incredible cornbread dressing for several years. My family now begs for it days before I make my decision about what to cook for sides for Thanksgiving. I make a big batch and watch it go over a few days. So worth the effort.
This is our favorite stuffing recipe to make for Thanksgiving. We typically use half the amount of chorizo, just enough to add extra flavor to the dish. We've also made it without any chorizo (and using vegetable broth), for our vegeterian friends. Wonderful both ways. Lots of steps, takes a while to make, but it's worth it! Much of it can be prepped ahead of time and then assembled/baked just before mealtime. I love that it has fennel in it--one of my favorite vegetables!
Terrific blend of spicy and sweet. Also made a vegetarian variation using vegan Chorizo and vegetable broth. I have made both several times and everyone wants the recipe. Served with tri-tip and salads for family dinner and at potlucks.
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