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Cornbread Stuffing with Bacon and Sage

Serves 10-12     adjust servings

Stuffing is never boring when there is bacon involved! This Cornbread Stuffing recipe has tons of bacon as well as sage and thyme to get those classic Thanksgiving aromas going on. The perfect side dish to go with turkey and gravy!

Ingredients

  • One 9x13 inch pan cornbread
  • 12 slices of thick-cut bacon (about 12 ounces)
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, including some leaves, about 2 1/2 cups
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 2 and 1/2 cups turkey or chicken stock, plus more**
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter, chopped

Instructions

  1. Tear the cornbread into bite-sized chunks. Spread out on 2 large baking sheets. Let the cornbread sit out uncovered (I left mine in the turned-off oven) overnight or for several hours.*
  2. Bake the two pans of cornbread at 400 degrees F for about 10 minutes. Flip the cornbread if necessary and bake a little longer if they are not dried out. Return the cornbread to the turned-off oven so that it can keep drying out while you prepare the rest of the stuffing.
  3. Chop the bacon into 1-inch pieces.
  4. In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Don't overdo it, or the bacon will get to crunchy when you bake it later. It should be cooked but still flexible. Remove the pan from the heat, and transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate and set aside. Leave all that bacon grease in the pan. 
  5. Chop 2 onions and 4 stalks of celery. For extra flavor, I love to chop some of the celery leaves. (In fact, I never remove celery stalks. I just start chopping the entire head of celery from the leaf end until it looks like I have about 2 and 1/2 cups. Those leaves have tons of flavor!)
  6. Heat the bacon grease in the pan over medium heat until it is shimmery. Add the onion and celery. Saute for about 10 minutes until the onions are translucent and the celery is soft. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and pepper to taste. 
  7. Add 2 tablespoons fresh sage and 2 teaspoons fresh thyme to the onions and saute for another 1 minute until fragrant. Remove from heat. 
  8. Add the dried cornbread to a very large bowl.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  10. Scrape the onions and celery into the bowl, and return the pan to the oven (don't wash it). Add the bacon to the bowl.
  11. Return the empty pan to medium heat and add 1/4 cup cider vinegar. Cook over medium heat, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan, until the liquid is nearly evaporated. 
  12. Add a stick of butter to the pan and melt completely. Pour the butter over the cornbread in the bowl, scraping the pan well. (You can finally put it in the sink now.)
  13. In glass measuring cup, whisk together 2 and 1/2 cups turkey stock** and 2 eggs. Season with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.
  14. Slowly pour the stock mixture over the bowl with the cornbread, stopping to carefully and gently stir. You don't want to demolish your cornbread, try to keep it from falling apart. If it's dried out enough, it should be okay. Add more stock as necessary to make sure that the cornbread is rehydrated. 
  15. Grease a 9x13 inch pan. Scrape the stuffing mixture into the pan and spread out evenly.
  16. Top the stuffing with 4 tablespoons of chopped butter.
  17. Spray a sheet of foil with nonstick spray and cover the stuffing, sealing the edges. 
  18. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, until warmed throughout.
  19. Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Remove the foil from the pan. Bake at 450 for another 20 minutes or so, keeping an eye on it because every oven is different. You want the top to get crispy but not burned. The edges of the pan should also be crispy. 
  20. Serve with turkey and gravy and mashed potatoes!

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