Cornbread Sausage Apple & Pecan Stuffing
12 tablespoons butter (1 1/2 sticks)
2 cups finely-chopped yellow onions
3 tart apples, cored and chunked, but not peeled (Jonathan, Winesap or Granny Smith)
1 lb bulk breakfast sausage, with sage (or your favorite bulk sausage)
3 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread
3 cups coarsely crumbled whole wheat bread or 3 cups multi-grain bread
3 cups coarsely crumbled French bread or 3 cups Italian bread
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
salt and pepper, to taste
1⁄2 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 1⁄2 cups dried cranberries
1 1⁄2 cups shelled pecan halves (do not chop)
1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth (optional, for a more moist dressing)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Melt half the butter in a large skillet.
Add onions and cook over medium-low to medium heat until tender and lightly browned, about 25 minutes.
Remove onion and butter from pan and put in a very large bowl to be mixed later.
In same skillet, melt rest of the butter, add apple, and cook quickly over high heat until lightly browned, but not mushy.
Remove apples and butter from pan and put in the bowl with the onions.
With the pan back on the burner, add sausage, crumbling as you cook it over medium heat, and cook until lightly browned.
When done, remove with a slotted spoon and add it to the mixing bowl.
Reserve drippings for basting later.
Add remaining ingredients to the mixing bowl and combine gently.
If you're going to stuff a turkey, cool completely in the refrigerator first.
To cook it as a separate dressing, spoon the mixture into a large casserole (13 x 9 or slightly larger), cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30- 45 minutes at 325, basting occasionally with cooking juices from the turkey or with reserved sausage fat, if needed.
Uncover the pan for the last 10 minutes of cooking to brown.
Serve hot or warm.
**Note: You may need to use additional broth (approximately one 14 ounce can) as necessary to adjust the moistness of the stuffing to your taste, or if there are insufficient drippings from your poultry.
**Note: To make these as individual stuffing muffins, add one egg to the mix before baking to help the muffins keep their shape.