I know you are probably thinking that title has a typo….It really is called United States of Thanksgiving Dressing. America is implied in that name. If you are like me, you get a little nostalgic around this time of year. I have so much to be thankful for and as an American, I really love to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Nothing makes you appreciate American Thanksgiving history and tradition more than living abroad. For the seven years that we lived outside of the United States, November would come and go in other countries with nothing but a regular workday. Nobody stopped to assess and cherish, take flights to family across the country, no one celebrated Thanksgiving of course, because it is uniquely our story ….except for the Americans that seemed to find each other and gather together at night after work to bring their food, faith, differences, similarities and American foundation together.
During those years I tasted family recipes from San Francisco to Cape Cod and Chicago to Baton Rouge. Whoever we were with …well, we were just all Americans and it was all good. Friendships were forged and traditions from different parts of the United States collided together at the same table far from home. One thing in common. American.
We weren’t Pilgrims or anything but we did know what it was like to be far from the Mothership like the Pilgrims and out of those fun times came this…
The Best United States of Thanksgiving Dressing Recipe that morphed out of some of those meals and it is truly delicious. It’s great to cook today, tomorrow or Thursday for your crowd because it’s a side full of flavor for your Thanksgiving table. The full printable recipe is at the bottom of my blog.
This dressing is really easy and just combines so many flavors together.
Apricots, Almonds and Dried Cranberries…. a little Grand Marnier.
Ground Pork sausage…sometimes we use hot and sometimes plain or sage flavored. Or I add fresh sage.
Fresh cornbread mixed with store bought dressing mix….
First, you need to make the cornbread by the box instructions except pour it into a rectangular pyrex like this one instead of muffin cups.While the cornbread was cooking, I cooked the Hot Pork Sausage breaking it up as it cooked. I cut up some fresh sage that you can see here in the skillet….I use my kitchen scissors to cut up my herbs to small snips. The sage adds a really nice flavor to the spicy sausage. I broke the sausage up more than you can see here to smaller pieces….when it’s cooked through just drain it in a colander in the sink. Leave the sausage bits and oil in the pan and add two cloves of chopped garlic, two cups of chopped celery and two cups of chopped onion. If you’re short on time, buy it chopped. If not, use that cuisinart or your knife skills! Zip, Zip done. Add two tablespoons of butter to the same sausage skillet and throw in the garlic….stir some and then add the onion and celery to saute, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon for about 4 minutes or until soft and transluscent. While the onions and celery are sauteeing, I soaked my dried cranberries in the Grand Marnier and chopped the apricots. When the onions are done, just turn the fire off. In a new skillet I added a pat of butter and some fresh thyme…. Then I added the apricots and stirred them for about a minute. Then I added the cranberries and Grand Marnier, a pinch of salt, pepper and sugar. Stir for 3 minutes on medium low heat. Ok, now the kitchen smells amazing….cornbread in the oven, all that sage and sausage and now these herbs and fruit and onions….mmmmmm!!!
Cornbread needs to cook until golden…which was 10 more minutes than the package said. Sometimes I leave it on the counter overnight covered to dry out a little. Today, I’m just throwing it in fresh.
Next I toasted some sliced almonds on a cookie sheet until golden brown…They smell really good….Heres the fun part…
I put the sausage, half a bag of dry Pepperidge Farm dressing mix, my whole pan of cornbread all broken up, all of the onions and celery, all of the fruit cooked down with its yummy sauce and the almonds. I added salt, pepper and some chopped rosemary.
Then add all of the chicken broth.Stir it all up, fold it over and over and taste it for seasoning. It should be wet but not soupy and full of flavor. Make sure you like your salt and pepper levels.
Spread it in a pan and top with some tiny pats of butter. You could cover and refrigerate it at this point to bake later or the next day. If you make two or more days in advance, cover well and freeze it to then thaw and bake on Thanksgiving day. Be sure to leave plenty of time to thaw.
Bake for 30 – 40 minutes on 375 degrees. It should be toasty on top and moist all inside.
It is really good and will make you grateful to be an American…or even just ALIVE all over again!
- Jiffy Cornbread Muffin Mix 2 8.5 oz. boxes
- Eggs 2 (for the cornbread)
- Milk 2/3 cup (for the cornbread)
- Spicy Ground Pork Sausage 1 lb.
- Fresh Sage 1 Tbsp chopped and destemmed
- Garlic 2 cloves minced
- White or Yellow Onion 2 cups chopped
- Celery 2 cups chopped
- Sliced almonds 1 1/2 cup
- Grand Marnier 1/4 cup
- Dried Cranberries 1/2 cup
- Dried Apricots 1/2 cup
- Pepperidge Farm Herbed Classic Stuffing Mix 7 oz.
- Chicken Broth 32 oz
- Butter 4 Tbsp
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Sugar a pinch
- Fresh Rosemary 1 tsp snipped into pieces
- Fresh Thyme sprig optional
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
- Make the corn muffin mix according to the directions but pour into a rectangular pyrex pan
- After you are done cooking the cornbread, turn the oven down to 375 degrees
- In a small bowl, soak the dried cranberries in the Grand Marnier
- Cook pork sausage over medium high heat in a non stick pan breaking it up to a crumble
- Add the chopped sage to the cooking sausage
- When the sausage is cooked through and brown, about 5 minutes, drain in a colander in the sink and let cool
- In the same skillet, leaving the sausage bits and oil, add 2 Tbsp. of butter on medium heat
- Add garlic to the melted butter and stir for 30 seconds
- Add the chopped onion and chopped celery to the skillet with the garlic
- Saute until transcluscent and cooked down, stirring frequently about 4-5 minutes
- Turn off the heat on the skillet and let the onion and celery rest there to cool
- In a new small skillet melt 1 Tbsp butter on medium heat and add the dried chopped apricots
- Stir for 1 minute and then add the dried cranberries and Grand Marnier to the apricot skillet
- Add a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper to the fruit and stir; add a sprig of fresh thyme if you want
- Cook these down for about 2 minutes and then turn off the heat
- Toast sliced almonds until golden brown, 1-2 minutes
- In an extra large mixing bowl combine sausage, onion/celery mix, almonds, dried fruits with their sauce, herbed dried dressing mix, crumbled cooked cornbread
- Add the chicken broth gradually folding together and stirring to combine, taste to adjust seasoning
- Lightly grease or use non-stick spray to coat a 9" x 13 " Pyrex pan
- Spread the dressing into the pan (you can cover and freeze it at this point if you want)
- Top with a couple of small pats of butter
- Bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until just brown on top
- Cooking is an art ...not a science so taste as you go to adjust your seasoning. Enjoy!
1 Timothy 1:12 & 17
I am grateful to the one who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, ….Now to the eternal king, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever! Amen.
Happy United States of Thanksgiving!