I’m typically adventurous in the kitchen, but admit to being a bit of a stuffing traditionalist; I generally don’t veer far from my mom’s usual crusty bread stuffing with onions, celery and sage. However, this thyme-spiked stuffing with cornbread and pecans wasn’t too far from my comfort level; the addition of cornbread to a loaf of torn dense white bread adds a new dimension to the texture without going all the way (all-cornbread stuffings can be heavy). Thyme is close enough to sage to make me OK with it, and pecans are welcome anytime, anywhere.
Classic Pecan-Thyme Cornbread Stuffing
1 lb. loaf day-old dense white or sourdough bread
4 cups coarsely diced or crumbled day-old corn bread, or another loaf of white bread
2-3 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme or sage, or 1 Tbsp. dried
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup canola or olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 cups chicken stock
1/2-1 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
Coarsely tear the loaf of bread into bite-sized chunks. If it’s very soft, leave it out on the counter top to dry out for a bit. Put the bread into a large bowl with the corn bread, thyme, salt and pepper and toss to combine them.
In a medium skillet, melt the butter and oil over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, sauté the onion and celery for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add to the bread mixture along with the chicken stock and pecans, and toss well to combine.
To bake on its own, transfer the mixture to a casserole dish that will accommodate it, cover and bake at 350°F for half an hour, then uncover and bake another half hour, until browned. Otherwise, follow the instructions to stuff and roast your turkey.
Stuffing can be made ahead, covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before baking.
Serves 6, with plenty of leftovers.
Photo credit: istockphoto/andrewdouglasdawson