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Where EAST meets the Northwest

(Joe Keller/America’s Test Kitchen via AP)

From The Asian Reporter, V28, #22 (November 19, 2018), page 13.

Scratch the mushy stuffing and make cornbread from scratch

By America’s Test Kitchen

Cornbread and sausage stuffing is a compelling alternative to the usual bread-based dish, but the recipes we tried all called for store-bought cornbread, which had a fluffy texture that resulted in mushy stuffing. So we decided we’d have to make the cornbread from scratch.

We began with our favorite cornbread recipe: Combine cornmeal with flour, leavener, salt, and sugar (which we omitted) before whisking in eggs, buttermilk, milk, and melted butter.

Because our dressing would offer tons of flavor, we decided to eliminate the buttermilk and replace the butter with vegetable oil; tasters couldn’t tell the difference. We cubed the cornbread and, while it worked fine to let it stale overnight, we found we could achieve the same results more quickly by drying it out in a low oven.

We tried assembling the dressing and storing the whole casserole in the fridge overnight, but unfortunately the cornbread became too mushy. We opted instead to wait until just before baking to combine the cornbread with chicken broth, eggs, browned sausage, and aromatics.

To increase richness, we added extra sausage, doubled the eggs to four, and replaced one cup of the chicken broth with half-and-half. We also drizzled melted butter over the dressing before baking it, which helped crisp the top. Instead of oven drying in step three, you can let the cut cornbread stale overnight at room temperature.

America’s Test Kitchen provided this article to The Associated Press. More recipes, cooking tips, and ingredient and product reviews are available at <www.americastestkitchen.com>.

* * *

Homemade Cornbread Dressing

Servings: 10-12

Start to finish: 3 hours

(Active time: 55 minutes, plus 2 hours to cool)

Cornbread:

2 2/3 cups milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs

2 cups (10 ounces) cornmeal

2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Dressing:

1 1/2 pounds bulk pork sausage

2 onions, chopped fine

3 celery ribs, chopped fine

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon ground sage

1 teaspoon dried thyme

3 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 cup half-and-half

4 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the cornbread: Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 375º Fahrenheit. Grease and flour 13" x 9" baking pan. Whisk milk, oil, and eggs together in a bowl.

In large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in milk mixture until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake on lower rack until golden and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool in pan on wire rack, about two hours.

Reduce oven to 250º F. Cut cornbread into one-inch squares. Divide cornbread between two rimmed baking sheets and bake, stirring occasionally, until dry, 50 minutes to one hour. Allow cornbread to cool completely on sheets, about 30 minutes.

For the dressing: Cook sausage in 12" nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink, about five minutes; transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. Pour off all but two tablespoons fat left in pan. Add onions, celery, and two tablespoons butter to fat in pan and cook over medium-high heat until vegetables soften, about five minutes. Stir in garlic, sage, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in broth, remove from heat, and allow to cool for five minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk half-and-half, eggs, salt, and cayenne together. Slowly whisk in warm broth mixture until incorporated. Gently fold in dried cornbread and sausage. Let mixture sit, tossing occasionally, until cornbread is saturated, about 20 minutes.

Heat oven to 375º F. Grease 13" x 9" baking pan. Transfer cornbread mixture to prepared pan. Melt remaining four tablespoons butter and drizzle evenly over top. Bake on upper rack until top is golden brown and crisp, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes and serve.

Nutrition information per serving: 512 calories (280 calories from fat); 31 g fat (10 g saturated, 1 g trans fats); 205 mg cholesterol; 737 mg sodium; 39 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 18 g protein.

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