Vegetarian Cornbread Stuffing (Adapted from The Silver Palate)
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, divided
- 2 1/2 cups finely chopped yellow onions (from about 2 medium onions)
- 1 1/2 cups finely chopped celery (from 2 to 3 stalks)
- 3 tart apples (such as Granny Smith, Jonathan or Winesap), skin on, cored and diced
- 4 1/2 cups diced or coarsely crumbled cornbread
- 4 1/2 cups oven-dried bread cubes from white, or simple whole wheat bread*
- 1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons dried sage
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 cups good vegetable broth
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the middle. Melt half the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and celery along with a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, 10 to 15 minutes. If necessary, reduce the heat to prevent browning. Transfer all the contents of the skillet to a large bowl.
- In the same skillet, melt the remaining butter. Add the diced apples and raise the heat to high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are browned in spots but not mushy, 5 to 10 minutes. Add all the contents of the skillet to the mixing bowl with the onion mixture.
- Add the cornbread, bread cubes, nuts, parsley, thyme, sage, and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper to the bowl. Mix gently but well with your hands. Pour the beaten eggs and the stock over the contents of the bowl, and mix again with your hands to moisten all the bread.
- Spoon the stuffing into a 9x13x2-inch baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Serve hot.
To dry your own bread cubes, preheat the oven to 250°F with one rack near the top and one near the bottom. Cut the bread into 1/2-inch dice. Spread it in a single layer on a couple of sheet pans. Bake the bread until it is completely dry, about an hour. Every 15 minutes, stir the bread and rotate the pans from front to back. Halfway through the cooking time, also move the top sheet pan to the bottom and the bottom one to the top. It's also fine to buy pre-dried bread, as long as it's good-quality bread without extra seasoning. Whole Foods sells a good house brand of "stuffing cubes" in a plain plastic bag at this time of year.
Adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook, which would make a pretty terrific holiday gift for almost anyone who likes to cook.