Cornbread, Pecan and Bacon Stuffing

In the Northeast, it’s called stuffing and in the South, it’s dressing. Others will insist it changes names depending whether it si cooked inside the bird (stuffing) or outside. We say it doesn’t matter what you call it—to many of us, it is the best part of Thanksgiving!

Servings: 8-10

Ingredients

  • Cornbread
  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs , lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • Dressing:
  • 1 pound thick cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pievces
  • 4 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 5 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted, coarsely chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. For the cornbread, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Combine the buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter in a separate bowl. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the cornmeal mixture and stir until just moistened. Transfer to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Bake until the cornbread comes away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 24-25 minutes. Cool in the pan 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool. When cool cut the bread into 1-inch cubes and spread on 2 baking sheets until ready to use. Wipe out the baking dish.
  3. For the dressing, cook the bacon in a large skillet until mostly browned and crisp, stirring occasionally, 18-20 minutes. With a slotted spoon transfer the bacon to a plate covered with a paper towel and let drain. Pour off all but 1/4 cup of the bacon drippings from the skillet.
  4. Return the skillet to the stove over medium heat and add the onion, carrots, celery, sage and thyme; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and just starting to brown, 24-26 minutes. Stir in the reserved bacon, pecans, 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the reserved cornbread cubes. Combine the broth, eggs, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper then pour into the bowl with the cornbread cubes; gently mix until completely moistened. Transfer to the 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
  5. Cover the baking pan with aluminum foil and bake 25 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the stuffing registers 160°F, about 20-22 minutes longer. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


Make the cornbread a day or two ahead, cut it in cubes, and leave it out at room temperature to dry. Walnuts and pecans are interchangeable in this slightly sweet, nutty and very savory stuffing, and feel free to throw in a handful of dried cranberries if you’re so inspired.   You can bake the stuffing ahead: to reheat it, pour in a little extra broth just to moisten, cover with foil, and warm it in the oven after you take the turkey out for about 20 minutes.