|I don't really cut such perfect cubes.|
Here's what I use to make basic Cornbread Stuffing:
One 16 oz packet of Jimmy Dean's Sage Sausage
2 T butter if needed...oh, just go ahead and use it, it's tasty there
1 medium sized onion, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
One 8 x 8 pan cooked, aged one day, and crumbled then left out to dry a bit in the kitchen cornbread - toast in the oven if it did not dry sufficiently on the morning of preparation...or just do that any old way cuz it's excellent.
Enough torn bread (from a loaf of French or Italian bread or if you really want awesome stuffing use baking powder biscuits *swoons*) also allowed to languish in the air for a day to dry a tad and bring the total amount of bread to about 8 cups...you could just use more cornbread instead, but it will be very dense stuffing. If that's what you want then go for it! There are times I just use cornbread.
2-3 t dry sage, or poultry seasoning, or for that matter savory or any combination of those that you enjoy (I'm using poultry seasoning because I prefer the sage as a base and not as the stand out flavor)
1 - 2 t of dried parsley - or a handful of fresh
1/4 - 1/2 t pepper - white pepper is a good choice, but if you don't have it, black will do.
Optional seasonings include things like Rosemary or Thyme or if you want it real flavorful use some of your favorite Cajun seasoning.
1/2 cup chicken stock
Optional ingredient that I am going to use this year: one or two roasted Hatch chili peppers chopped. I froze a bunch when they were in season and will have to decide if I want mild or hot, but am tending to think mild.
Once you have all the stuff assembled and prepped per above, here's what you do:
Put the sausage in a large skillet and cook over medium heat to about 1/2 way done and drain the excess fat. Then add the two tablespoons of butter, onion, and celery and continue cooking over medium low. You need to cook it long enough to make sure the onion and celery soften. This is where I'll add my Hatch chilis. If it still looks too fatty, you can drain a bit before mixing up the stuffing.
In a very large bowl, dump in the crumbled, torn, and toasted bread. Stir in the seasonings. Add the hot meat and veggies and stir. Slowly mix in just enough stock to moisten but not saturate the stuffing. Remember, the bird is juicy and will add more flavor and liquid as it cooks.
Now here is one of the most important parts of stuffing - don't do this ahead of time. Do it right before you are going to stuff and cook the bird so the stuffing is warm at the start of cookery. That way it will come to the right temp along with the bird.
If you can't fit it all in the bird, then put the rest in a casserole and bake it at 375 for about 30-40 minutes or so - but remember, there's no bird adding moisture, so you will need to add more stock.
Use your taste bud memories and think about what else might be good in there - walnuts or pecans? raisins or currents or dried cranberries? I think the Hatch chilis are going to rock!