Cornbread Dressing

???????????????????????????????As we prepare to gather with our families around the dinner table, consider adding to your dinner menu a new cornbread dressing recipe made with sausage from hogs raised with care by family farmers across the Midwest. Without dressing, even the best Thanksgiving dinner would be somewhat bare.

This version uses a bold combination of Italian sausage and a cured ham balanced by the sweetness of the cornbread and slight sourness of the sourdough bread. Bake the dressing separately because the turkey and dressing cook at different rates, making it difficult to gauge doneness and safe temperatures. If you’re looking for a little added turkey flavor, baste the dressing with some of the pan juices.

Niman Ranch Cornbread Dressing

Makes about 8 servings
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours

1 box cornbread mix
1 16-ounce loaf sourdough bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 ounces butter
1 cup Niman Ranch Italian Sausage, casing removed and crumbled
2 cups diced Niman Ranch Jambon Royale
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage, or 1 teaspoon ground sage
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

To make the cornbread, follow the instructions on the package. Let the cornbread cool and cut it into 1/2-inch cubes, and spread out to dry and stale (this can be made the night before).

In a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter, then add the sausage and ham. Cook until they begin to crisp and caramelize. Add the onions and celery, and sauté for 5 minutes, or until soft and aromatic. When the vegetables are soft, add the sage, parsley, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes or until the ingredients are blended and aromatic.

Combine the cubes of cornbread and sourdough with the dressing mixture in a large bowl. Add the half-and-half and chicken stock. Mix until the dressing is combined and moist. Transfer the dressing to the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.

Bake covered for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes until the top is toasted.

Note: The dressing can be made 1 to 2 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Let the dressing sit at room temperature for an hour before reheating.

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