Virginia Cornbread Stuffing

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I won’t say the holidays in my family are stressful. It’s nice to be around a bunch of people who are related and also happen to like each other and have decent people skills.

I also won’t say the holidays in my family aren’t stressful. Because there’s just something about this time of year that makes people batty, even if it’s nothing more than the stress of getting a massive meal of multiple potentially complex dishes on the table all at once, and the off-the-cuff comments that mean nothing and are usually brushed off can sting more than usual.

So it pays to have a dish or two up your sleeve that’s 1) pretty much guaranteed to taste good whether you execute it perfectly or forget about it in the oven for a few extra minutes and 2) is ridiculously easy to make.

That dish is this cornbread stuffing.

You take cornbread and browned maple sausage and a bunch of other ingredients and whip them all together in a bowl and pour them in a casserole dish and throw them in an oven to cook low and slow until they look set enough for your liking.

And then you enjoy the hell out of those ingredients because maple and sausage and cornbread go wickedly well together, enough that you’re guaranteed more than a few people will go back to your casserole dish for second helpings.

This is the dish you bring to the potluck, to the office party, to the family dinner where you just want people to be distracted by good food and not realize that the turkey is taking forever and someone just mentioned current Washington politics.

Even if nothing else goes right, if you have this stuffing and a couple good bottles of wine, you will survive the holidays. I promise. May the force be with us all.

Virginia Cornbread Stuffing

Makes 1 casserole dish full

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 9×9 inch pan of cornbread {or try my skillet cornbread}
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs Bob Evans natural sausage
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 4 celery ribs, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 4 large eggs, beaten

How to Make  Them:

1. Preheat your oven to 350F.

2. Cut the cornbread into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 10 minutes. Flip and toast another 10 minutes, or until the cubes look nicely browned.

3. Turn oven up to 375F.

4. Butter a 9×13-inch casserole dish. Set aside.

5. Set a large skillet over medium heat. Mix the maple syrup into the sausage, and then add the canola oil and sausage to the skillet. Stir with a wooden spoon to break up large clumps. Cook until the sausage is nicely browned, 7-10 minutes.

6. Transfer the sausage to a bowl and pour off any fat drippings.

7. Return the heat to medium. Add 4 tbsp butter to the same skillet you used earlier, and add the onion, garlic, celery, and a pinch of salt. Cook 5 minutes, or until tender, fragrant, and translucent.

8. Combine the stuffing ingredients. Add the onion mixture to the cornbread and fold in the browned sausage and stock. Finally, fold in the eggs and sprinkle with parsley.

9. Spoon the mixture into the casserole dish. Bake at 375F for 35-45 minutes, or until piping hot and golden brown on top.

Serve hot, preferably with gravy. A good stuffing or dressing is really just a delivery system for the gravy, after all.

I need good potluck suggestions! What’s your go-to dish, friends?

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