It's the week of Thanksgiving, I am not hosting my own dinner but rather heading off to my friend Tyler's parents' home. His mother, Susan, is a load of fun and over time we have bonded over important topics such as food and T.V. shows. I will admit that getting invited to someone else's home for the holiday dinner lifts quite a bit of work off your shoulder and for that I am thankful once again! Although I am making an appetizer and dessert for Susan's dinner, I am thrilled that I don't have to make a huge turkey and all the other sides and desserts that are a staple of this fall tradition. However, a few items were requested at home and one of them is this cornbread stuffing that I make every year, for both the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
Thanksgiving is a time for family traditions. Some people love sausage and bread in their stuffing, while others make theirs hot or sweet. Every family that I know of takes their favorite recipe and improves on it, year after year, making it more personal and special. The sharing of good eats and of course the long holiday break is what I love most about Thanksgiving. For me, I like my stuffing a little hot and sweet, here the cornbread serves as the base and I infused it with the rich flavors and colors of fall vegetables. The sweetness of the cornbread, apples, carrots, orange juice, and cider complement the heat of the chopped jalapenos to give a delicious fusion. Since Thanksgiving menus are generally long with several dishes to be prepared, I try to keep this recipe simple and flavorful but delicious. On these particular days a few minutes saved goes a long way.
If you can't find barberries, use sweetened cranberries. They both impart a rich red color, yet very different flavor working very well in this stuffing. If you've started to notice, I am always looking for ways to use wine, and I've successfully done so in this recipe. Used properly, if not consumed first, wine makes a fabulous alternative for vegetable/fruit stock. Also, feel free to use your favorite plain cornbread recipe to prepare this stuffing, giving it your own unique and personal touch. Have a wonderful, Thanksgiving holiday!
hot and sweet cornbread stuffing
4 cups cornbread, coarsely cubed
1 cup diced white onion
1 medium size fennel bulb, diced
1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 cup barberries or sweetened cranberries
1 Granny Smith Apple, chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons pickeled jalapenos, chopped
1/4 stick frozen butter, diced into small cubes
1/2 apple cider juice
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup white wine ( I used a Pinot Blanc)
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large pan or pot, heat the olive oil on a medium flame. Add the onion, fennel, carrots, and barberries. Saute the vegetables until they are tender but not brown. This will take about 10 minutes.
2. Add the apples and jalapenos to the pot and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
3. Season with salt and pepper according to taste. Switch the flame off.
4. In a large bowl, mix the cornbread with the sauteed vegetables. Pour in the juices and wine and fold gently.
5. Preheat the oven to 350F.
6. Layout the mixed cornbread and vegetables along with the liquid in a baking pan. Randomly, sprinkle the cubed butter over the top of the stuffing. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or till the crust is golden brown.
7. Once baked the crust will be golden brown and most of the liquid has evaporated. Serve warm.