I don’t know about you, but the only time we ever have stuffing is at Thanksgiving. Ever. And it’s something different depending on who’s in charge. When it’s my Mom – we get her savory herb-sausage stuffing (swoon). Myne (my Dad’s Mom) makes an “oyster dressing” that can’t be beat. She gets her fresh oysters from the Chesapeake Bay – how convenient!
Madou, (my Mom’s Mom) is known for her chestnut dressing. And Scott and I usually do a sausage, apple and cranberry version, baked in a casserole dish so that there’s lots of crispy edges.
This year, however, we’re trying something new! We were so smitten with that Chipotle Beer Can Chicken that Scott wants to try it with a turkey. Do you think a Foster’s Lager will hold an 8 pound bird upright? Anyway, traditional stuffing/dressing just won’t work with chili-pepper infused and smoked fowl.
No, it calls for something completely different. A stuffing that puts a lively twist on this mandatory side dish, while remaining reverent to the holiday. Cornbread. And hatch chilies. Yes!
I added cranberries in a nod to the season – the color is vibrant and those pops of tartness add another dimension to the stuffing.
Cornbread can easily turn to mush, so it should be added to the vegetables at the end along with the bacon and corn. Spread it into a cast-iron skillet (or a greased casserole dish) and bake it until it’s golden, with crispy edges and tender center. Top with some fresh cilantro and enjoy!
To me, cornbread stuffing should be moist and flavorful on the interior with a crusty, top sides and bottom. Achieve this by using a cast iron skillet
- 5 cups stale cornbread diced into 1/2" cubes
- 1/2 pound bacon chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup celery diced , about 2 stalks
- 1 cup yellow onion diced , 1 medium onion
- 1/2 red bell pepper seeded and diced
- 1 cup hatch or anaheim chili peppers roasted, peeled & seeded, chopped
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels
- 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder or other
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
- 2 tablespoons cilantro chopped
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup half and half
- cilantro for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Brush 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the bottom of a 12" cast iron skillet (or if you don't have a cast iron skillet, spray a large casserole dish with vegetable spray) and set aside.
Lay the cornbread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Turn cornbread with a spatula and bake another 10 minutes until browned and crisp. Set cornbread aside to cool and turn up the oven to 375 degrees.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the chopped bacon and cook until browned and crisp. Transfer the bacon to a dish lined with a paper towel and set aside. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the bacon fat and stir in the chopped onion, celery and bell pepper. Saute until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped chili peppers, ancho chili powder and black pepper and stir to combine.
Add the cornbread and gently toss with the vegetables. Add the chopped bacon, corn, parsley and cilantro. Drizzle the chicken broth an half and half over the mixture and toss very gently until liquids are combined and absorbed.
Transfer the stuffing to the cast iron skillet or casserole and bake for 25-30 minutes until browned and crispy. Serve.
More Favorite Holiday Side Dishes: