Cornbread, Chorizo, Kale, and Cheddar Stuffing
I can’t help decide whether the right word is dressing or stuffing, but I can give you my favorite version. Sweet cornbread, softened kale leaves, and plenty of onions topped with cheddar make this a special stuffing. The chorizo provides heat and spice to the sweeter flavors of the stuffing. To prepare a stuffing that’s crisp and moist, the cornbread is first dried and then soaked with the stuffing ingredients overnight. The stuffing is then partially baked covered and then uncovered, the result is a stuffing that is crispy on top and tender on the inside.
- Yield: 4 to 6 as a side
1 lb/455 g cornbread, cut into 1 inch/2.5cm cubes (See The Cook’s Notes)
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil plus extra to grease the baking dish
5 oz/140 g chorizo (meat or plant-based), crumbled
2 large/total weight 600g, yellow or white onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 bunch/200 g dinosaur kale leaves, midrib removed and discarded, leaves shredded
1 large/200g baking apple, cored and diced
3 oz/85 g dried sweet and tart cherries or cranberries
¾ cup/100 g candied walnuts
2 cups/480ml low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
Fine sea salt
2 Tbsp fresh thyme
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 cup/80 g grated sharp cheddar
If the cornbread is fresh and not dry, then it will need to be dried. Preheat the oven to 200F/95C. Place the cornbread on a rimmed baking sheet and dry the cornbread in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove and let cool completely before use.
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large and deep skillet or saucepan. Add the chorizo and cook until lightly browned and most of the fat is rendered 6 to 8 minutes.
Add and sauté the onions until they turn translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and pepper, and sauté until fragrant, 30 to 45 seconds. Add the kale and sauté until the leaves are wilted for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and fold in the apple, cherries, and walnuts. Stir in the stock and season with salt. Fold in the thyme and cornbread, carefully taking care to avoid breaking the cornbread too much.
Grease a 9 inch by 12 inch/23 cm by 30.5cm baking dish with a little oil (it can be oval like in the photo or rectangular). Transfer the cornbread mixture to the dish. Top with the rosemary sprigs and press them gently into the mixture. Wrap the top of the pan tightly with one or two layers of foil by crimping the edges down and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400F/200C. Bake the dish covered in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, unwrap and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes until the top is golden-brown and crisp and most of the liquid evaporates. Remove the dish from the oven and sprinkle the top with the cheddar; bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the cheese begins to bubble and melts. Remove from the oven and let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.
- Prep the stuffing ahead the day and bake it an hour or two before dinner time.
- There’s no need to dry the cornbread if it’s already dry (a little stale will help here); otherwise, dry them in the oven as instructed below in the recipe. Homemade or store-bought is fine and so is Jiffy’s.
- If you don’t want to use chorizo, skip it. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, use vegan chorizo, there are so many good brands available. The one thing to remember, regardless of whether the sausage is meat or plant-based, they’re all a bit salty, so watch out for oversalting the stuffing as you make it.
- If you decide to skip the chorizo, use (1 tsp whole fennel seeds, lightly cracked + 1 tsp ground smoked sweet paprika + 1/4 tsp ground cayenne) and add them with the garlic.
- Store-bought candied walnuts are a good time saver.