Recipe courtesy Erin Clarke, executive chef, Casa Luca, Washington DC
Erin Clarke’s flavorful yet simple dressing (if it’s prepared outside the bird, it’s called “dressing”) recipe saves time and oven space on Thanksgiving. Prepare the dressing the day before the event, and reheat it before carving the bird.
- 6 ounces fresh Italian fennel sausage
- ½ cup rendered pancetta fat/drippings (may substitute butter)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 15 medium fresh sage leaves, chopped
- 5 cups cornbread, cut into ¾-inch cubes
- Milk or chicken stock, if desired
- Salt and pepper to taste
NOTE: The cornbread pieces you use should be coarse, not crumbly.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In skillet over medium heat, crumble sausage and cook until browned. Remove sausage, leaving any drippings. Add rendered pancetta fat, then add onion, celery and sage. Sauté until tender, but not browned.
Combine sausage with mixture, and add cornbread. Add milk, chicken stock or water to moisten the crumbs, if desired. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
In covered casserole dish, bake 45 minutes. If cooked in advance, reheat 15–20 minutes, moistening with small amount of chicken stock, if necessary. For individual servings, bake in oiled ramekins or muffin tin for 20 to 25 minutes, until edges begin to brown. Serves 4–6.