Thank you for reading my blog! Truly, I am so grateful. I take your comments to heart, and invite suggestions to improve it and recommendations for future topics. As a thank you, I share a favorite poem about the ubiquitousness of our kitchen tables and my special Cornbread and Sausage "Dressing" recipe.
I grew up in a small town in Minnesota (Willmar) and we called it dressing. But I have lived in Texas since 1987, and they call it "stuffing." My Minnesota family uses bread; the South loves cornbread. Native Minnesotans would never put sausage (or frankly nothing more than celery and onion) in their dressing, let alone raisins that had enjoyed a brandy-bath overnight.
So, I have created a hybrid recipe that combines the best of my Thanksgiving-at-the-kitchen-table memories from the upper Midwest and my adopted home in the Southwest. Let me know if you have questions about it – and certainly, what you think of it.
First, the poem . . .
Perhaps the World Ends Here
By Joy Harjo
The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.
The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.
We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.
It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.
At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.
Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.
This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.
Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.
We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.
At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.
Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.
"Perhaps the World Ends Here" from The Woman Who Fell From the Sky by Joy Harjo. Copyright © 1994 by Joy Harjo. Used by permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Cornbread and Sausage Dressing – serves 8 (doubles easily)
By Deborah McMurray
(Note that I always look for ways to reduce calories and fat [especially at Thanksgiving!], so I have several lower fat substitutions here – such as using 4 egg whites instead of 2 eggs.)
- Make fresh cornbread (2 boxes Jiffy Cornbread or your favorite from-scratch recipe), crumble into a large bowl and set aside. You can bake it the night before and refrigerate it, or several weeks before and freeze it.
- 1 cup brown or golden raisins, plus pour over 1/2 cup brandy or cognac. Add enough hot water so the raisins are immersed in liquid. Soak overnight and reserve the soaking mixture.
- 4 egg whites, lightly beaten
- 2/3 cup skim milk
- 1 pound Jimmy Dean's reduced fat mild pork sausage
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, chopped (I always pull the outside threads off – they are kind of tough and bitter)
- 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 16-oz can of corn or frozen corn, thawed and drained
- 1 can water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans or pine-nuts (either is delicious)
- 1 tbsp. fresh sage or 1 1/4 tsp dried sage (but crack open a fresh jar if you use dried)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (pour yourself a glass, too, as you watch the raisins plump)
- 1-2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (the heat adds so much to this recipe!)
- Sea salt to taste
- Freshly ground pepper to taste (I use quite a lot, like usual)
- 1 cup chicken or turkey stock (or broth)
Making the dressing: Crumble and fry the sausage in a large non-stick skillet until brown. Remove it from the pan and add it to the cornbread bowl, leaving a tiny bit of the drippings in the pan. Discard any excess oil. Saute the onion over medium heat until slightly softened, then add the celery. Cook until the onions are translucent. Add to the sausage/cornbread mixture in the bowl.
Add the skim milk, beaten egg whites, corn, apple, water chestnuts, raisins (including 1/4 cup of the brandy mixture), pine nuts or pecans and other spices. Add the chicken or turkey stock and the white wine. Mix all ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste.
Spray a 9×13 baking dish with PAM, pour dressing into the pan, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 30 minutes until crunchy and brown. Remove from the oven and keep warm until serving.
If necessary to reheat, cover with foil, but remove the foil the last few minutes to re-crisp the top.
This dressing is great with turkey, but also wonderful with roast pork.
Enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving!