Cajun cornbread stuffing

Ever since my conversion to a stuffing-lover a few years ago, after discovering that this dish doesn’t have to be a soggy mess full of terrifying giblet chunks, I’ve been meaning to try out a Southern-inspired cornbread stuffing. Although I do love the savory herb-iness of typical Thanksgiving fare, this holiday could definitely use a dash of spice to break up the monotony. Therefore I concocted my own sassy version of a cajun spiced cornbread stuffing. It really does have authentic cajun pizzazz – when I was cooking the spices with the veggies, the mixture tasted and smelled just like the beginnings of gumbo. Since I was on one of my experimental culinary missions, I had to go all out and make the cornbread from scratch as well. Although not necessary to do so, this is a pretty bangin’ cornbread recipe on its own, likely due to the high content of rich ingredients (butter and buttermilk?! That’s a lot of butter words). The cornbread itself turned out rather mild, so I would recommend adding another jalapeño if you want a noticeable kick. Overall, this recipe ended up being a huge hit at the Thanksgiving gathering I attended, so it might have to become my new default stuffing.

Ingredients

Jalapeño cheddar corn bread:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 2 T baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 T white sugar
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 6 T melted butter
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 2 chopped jalapeños
  • 2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar

Stuffing:

  • about 2/3 to 3/4 of the cornbread made above, left out to dehydrate a few days
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
  • 1 T salt
  • 2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 tsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 4 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh sage
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 2-3 anaheim, green, or poblano chilies, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 T cayenne pepper sauce
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Instructions

Cornbread:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a large (13 x 9 inch) pan. I didn’t have this so I actually used a loaf pan as well as a pie pan, so you can get creative with what you have. In one bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, cornmeal, baking powder, 1 tsp salt, and sugar) and mix them together well. In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients (6 T melted butter, 5 beaten eggs, and buttermilk), and mix well. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and mix until you can’t see any dry ingredients. Finally fold in the chopped jalapeños and shredded cheddar, then pour into your buttered pans. Bake about 55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.

Stuffing:

I left my cornbread sitting out on the countertop for several days, loosely covered in tin foil. I prefer a bit of a drier stuffing, so this lets it dehydrate a bit, which also will allow the liquids and spices you add later to permeate into the cornbread. To start making the stuffing, you should make sure all of your ingredients are chopped and laid out, because there are a lot of components.

Preheat your oven to 350. Start by melting the butter in a large frying pan or wok on medium heat (I used a wok!). Once fully melted, add the salt, white and black pepper, cayenne, thyme, oregano, sage, and bay leaves. Cook the spices for a few minutes. Then add all of the vegetables (onion, celery, green onion, chilies, parsley, bell pepper, and garlic). Cook the vegetables until softened, about 15 to 20 minutes. Once the veggies are cooked through, add the cayenne pepper sauce and vegetable broth. Let heat through for a few minutes, and pull out the bay leaves. Crumble the cornbread into the skillet, or combine everything in a large bowl if it doesn’t fit.

*note: I didn’t use all of the cornbread in the actual stuffing, as I ended up eating some of it, and feeding some to my friends. Therefore I think about 2/3 to 3/4 was left, but I liked the intensity of the spices that way. Here is photographic evidence of the cornbread’s deliciousness on its own, thanks to taste-tester and hungry friend Emily:

After the cornbread is mixed in, add the evaporated milk and 2 beaten eggs. If still in the pan, do this step off the heat. Mix everything together really well, then pour the stuffing into a large casserole or baking dish (or two dishes), and bake through for 50 minutes to 1 hour, uncovered.

This stuffing tastes great alone, but I did end up dousing it with my latest version of mushroom gravy, which was quite delicious!

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