My mom used to start cooking her Thanksgiving stuffing at least a week before the holiday. The aromas of caramelized onions and fresh herbs were drifting through our house for days. The whole week, I could always smell Thanksgiving as I’d walk down our block on my way home from school.
The cooking, tasting, and adjusting didn’t end until after the Thanksgiving feast. My mom would add something to her Thanksgiving stuffing daily for the whole week! After each new ingredient, we would all taste and say how delicious it was. Those positive reviews, however, did not stop my mom from making subtle changes until the very last moment. And somehow it just got better and better.
Time marches on, though, and now I am the main cook for the family’s Thanksgiving feast. And I make my own stuffing (and admittedly, I don’t spend a full week on my version.) I do insist, though, that my mom still bring her time-honored, much-loved stuffing to the celebration, too!
My Cornbread Stuffing with Sherried Mushroom Sauté is quite divine. Even my mom loves it! And each time I begin this recipe, when I sauté the onions and add the fresh herbs, the oh-so-amazing aroma brings me right back to every other Thanksgiving.
(Incidentally, this delicious stuffing happens to be completely gluten-free. So if you have guests who are watching that particular part of their diet, wow them all with this stuffing. No one, gluten-free or otherwise, will be feel that anything is missing here, that I can promise you!)
- ½ recipe Skillet Jalapeño-Bacon Cornbread (or any cornbread—see note below)
- Olive oil for the pan
- 2 cups brown onion, medium dice
- 1-1/2 cups finely chopped celery
- 2 cups (about 8-ounces) roughly chopped Crimini mushrooms
- 1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
- 1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- ½ cup dry sherry
- 1-1/4 cups roughly chopped, toasted pecans
- About 1 cup turkey, chicken or vegetable stock
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cut the cornbread into approximately ¾-inch cubes. Place cornbread cubes on baking sheet and toast until they are dry and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- While the cornbread is toasting, coat a large sauté pan with olive oil and place it over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it's soft, about 4 minutes. Then add the celery and cook for another couple of minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and a bit more olive oil if necessary. Sauté the mushrooms until they are nicely browned, about 10 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the sherry, scraping any bits of onion, celery, and mushroom off the bottom of the pan and back into the mixture. Add the herbs and stir until it's very aromatic, about 30 seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the toasted cornbread and the mushroom mixture in a large mixing bowl. Gently mix to combine. Add the desired amount of stock to the stuffing. (I like it only slightly moist.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Before serving, heat stuffing in covered dish just until it's heated through, about 20 minutes at 350 degrees F. For added crispness to the top, uncover the dish for the last 5 minutes or so.
Up to 3, and at least 1 day ahead of time: Make the cornbread.
Up to 2 days and at least 40 minutes ahead of time: Make the mushroom sauté and toast the cornbread.
If you make the cornbread a week ahead, wrap it tightly in at least a couple of layers of plastic wrap. Keep it in the freezer until the night before you make the stuffing.
You can also make the entire dish, including mixing the toasted cornbread with the mushroom sauté, the day before.