Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and I can’t wait!! I love Thanksgiving; a day of cooking, eating, chilling in front of the TV, eating, playing board games, eating, hanging with family and/or friends, and eating. This year we are making the 5 hour trek to my parent’s house in Indiana which means I won’t have to do much of the cooking (a wonderful break, as any chef will tell you). I’ll still be involved and will gladly help out as part of the joy of Thanksgiving is having the whole family in the kitchen helping out, but I’ll also have a chance to chill in front of the TV watching the Macy’s T-Day parade, yes, cheesy I know, but it’s tradition although I can only handle about 30 minutes at a time, with breaks for helping out in the kitchen.
Cornbread can be kind of difficult to work with, as a stuffing ingredient. Too moist and the texture of the resulting stuffing gets heavy and gummy. Too dry and the cornbread crumbles too much and again it ends up heavy and gummy. I usually bake a batch of cornbread the weekend before Thanksgiving. Use your favorite recipe, but leave out all sugar except for maybe a tablespoon or so. While I love sweet cornbread, it doesn't make the best stuffing. Keep it savory. Allow the cornbread to dry overnight, uncovered. On Monday cut it into 1/2 inch cubes, spread out on trays and allow to dry, very loosely covered until Wednesday. On Wednesday place it in your bowl, cover tightly and save to make your stuffing on Thursday.
Our family, probably like most families serve our meal family style with large platters of food gracing our table. But I have been involved (mostly in restaurants) with plated Thanksgiving meals. This recipe is perfect for doing plated meals although you could easily platter these and have people serve themselves.
Corn Bread Stuffing Stuffed Squash
8 Acorn Squash (or similar squash)
9 cups corn bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and dried
3 ribs celery, diced
1 large onion, peeled and diced
4 Tbl. butter
2 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 eggs beaten
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2-4 cups turkey broth
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries, chopped
3/4 cup pecan pieces, toasted
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
Preheat oven to 375°F. Slice a small bit off of the bottom of each squash so that it stands upright. Remove about 1/4 of the squash from the stem end and scoop out all the seeds and membrane. Place in 2 baking dishes with 1/4 cup of water in each. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Meanwhile heat turkey broth to a simmer. In a skillet melt butter and saute onion and celery until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Place remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix. Add the onion and celery mixture and finally 3 1/2 cups of the turkey broth. Mix until well combined and the bread is moistened. If stuffing is not moist enough add the remaining broth. Stuff the cavity of each squash, mounding it up above the squash. If you have extra stuffing place in a greased pan and bake along side the stuff squash. Recover the squash and bake for 20 minutes longer. Remove foil and continue to bake until squash is tender and stuffing is nicely browned. Serve 1 squash to each person.