Bon Appétit (November 2014)
If you ask us, stuffing might just be the most important dish on the Thanksgiving table.
The turkey is, well, turkey. It's never going to be anyone's favorite item. And no matter if you wet brine, dry brine, baste, butter or slather it with spices, it's still going to be, you know, turkey. Sure the sides are important, and desserts are huge.
But for us, the stuffing is major.
And you'd be hard-pressed to find a better one that this Cornbread, Chorizo, Cherry and Pecan Stuffing from Bon Appétit.
We don't want to beat around the bush here: We thought this was pretty much a perfect stuffing. Maybe that's partly because it reminded us both of the kinds of Thanksgiving dressing we each grew up with. In our Southern households, Thanksgiving stuffing was always made with cornbread, and we both think it's the best base for a stuffing. (Sorry, sourdough! Sorry, oysters!)
This particular stuffing isn't exactly like the ones we grew up eating; the Thanksgiving stuffings of our childhoods were dense and almost cakey. This is a lot looser. Also, neither of us remembers sausage (or any meat, for that matter) in the stuffing. And, okay, dried cherries would never have found their way into either of our grandmothers' stuffing recipes.
Still, this stuffing is fantastic. It's full of great flavors, and it's incredibly moist. We love the texture from the pecans, and the cherries add a delicious slightly tart note.
For the cornbread this recipe calls for, we used this 2006 recipe from Bon App. But take note: That recipe only makes 8 cups of cornbread, and this stuffing recipe calls for 10 cups. So you'll need to make more than just a single batch in order to have enough. Our advice? Go ahead and double that cornbread recipe, crumble enough for 10 cups, and freeze the rest of the cornbread.
Anyway, we don't want to belabor the point. But if you're looking for a perfect, classic cornbread stuffing, this is it.
>> Read the full Thanksgiving 2014 recipe index
>> Read about this year's biggest Thanksgiving trends
Cornbread, Chorizo, Cherry, and Pecan Stuffing
Bon Appétit (November 2014), recipe by Claire Saffitz
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Nutritional Information available at BonAppetit.com
Store-bought cornbreads can be very sweet; taste before using, or omit the sugar from your favorite recipe.
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, divided, plus more
¼ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup dried tart cherries
10 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread, preferably homemade, dried out overnight
⅓ cup coarsely chopped pecans
¼ cup olive oil
1 pound fresh chorizo, casings removed
2 medium onions, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
2 large eggs
3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth, divided
¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 400°. Butter a shallow 3-qt. baking dish and a sheet of foil. Bring vinegar and 2 Tbsp. water to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat and add cherries. Let sit until cherries are plump, 15–20 minutes.
Meanwhile, spread out cornbread on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden brown, 10–15 minutes. Let cool. Place in a very large bowl.
Drain cherries, reserving soaking liquid, and add cherries to bowl with cornbread (do not mix).
Reduce oven temperature to 350°. Toast pecans on a clean rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until fragrant and slightly darkened, 8–10 minutes. Let cool; add to bowl.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook chorizo, stirring occasionally and breaking into small pieces with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to bowl with a slotted spoon.
Add onions and celery to skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until onions are golden brown and soft, 10–12 minutes. Add garlic and sage; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl.
Reduce heat to medium and cook reserved cherry soaking liquid in skillet, scraping up any browned bits, until almost all evaporated, about 1 minute. Add ½ cup butter; cook, stirring, until melted. Drizzle over bread mixture.
Whisk eggs and 2 cups stock in a medium bowl; pour over cornbread mixture. Add parsley, season with salt and pepper, and gently toss, adding more stock ¼-cupful at a time as needed (you may not use it all), until combined and cornbread is hydrated. Mix carefully to avoid breaking cornbread into crumbs. Transfer to prepared dish and dot with remaining ¼ cup butter.
Cover with buttered foil; bake until a paring knife inserted into the center comes out hot, 30–35 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 450°. Uncover and bake until top is golden brown and crisp, 20–25 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.
DO AHEAD: Stuffing can be assembled 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.