I’m telling you, this stuff is psychedelically delicious. The recipe is adapted from “The Cook’s Bible: The Best of American Home Cooking” by Christopher Kimball, a book that if I were you I’d ask Santa for. We’re about to start cooking it around my place, except the “we” is my wife, because I’m flat on my back with the flu — courtesy, I kid you not, of the flu shot I got on Monday. Bleah. Anyway, the problem with most cornbread dressing is blandness. Toasting the cornbread and the chopped pecans gives a wonderful taste and texture to the finished product, and the bourbon adds a certain I don’t know what, but it’s good:
Toasted Cornbread-Pecan Stuffing
6 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread
3/4 cup pecans
1/4 pound bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onions
3/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 tablespoons bourbon
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup minced flat leaf parsley
1. Heat over to 350F. Spread crumbled cornbread onto a baking sheet.
Coarsely chop pecans and add to cornbread. Toast in oven for 25-30 minutes or until cornbread is golden, tossing the crumbs once or twice during toasting. Cool and place in a large mixing bowl.
2. Cook bacon over medium-high heat in a saute pan of skillet. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to bowl with cornbread and pour off all but
1 tablespoon of drippings (mmm…bacon drippings). Add butter and olive oil to skillet and when butter has melted add onion and saute for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add celery and saute another three minutes.
Stir in thyme and sage and salt and pepper to taste. Add to cornbread.
3. Turn up heat under saute pan and add bourbon. Stir vigorously for 2 minutes with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add chicken stock, cook for 1 minute, and add mixture to bowl. Add parsley to bowl and adjust seasonings.
And you’re thinking, “Put it back in the oven, right?” No, that’s it.
You’re done. Makes about 10 cups, and it tastes even better if you make it today and let it sit overnight. If any of you try this, let me know how it turned out.