Pumpkin-Cornbread Stuffing With Chicken Sausage, Dried Figs & Cranberries
by Sara Foster, Foster’s Market, Durham, North Carolina
The pumpkin in this dish gives it a great flavor and color, and the addition of chicken sausage makes it a stand-alone meal, though it also goes well with roasted chicken during the holidays.
- 1 small pie pumpkin, halved and seeds removed*
- ½ cup bourbon
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup dried figs, chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 ribs celery, chopped, with ¼ cup leaves chopped and reserved
- 1 pound Smart Chicken sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings and crumbled
- 6 cups cubed cornbread
- 3 cups cubed challah, brioche, or other soft egg bread
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon dried crumbled sage
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 3 large eggs
- *In place of the pie pumpkin, you can substitute roasted sweet potatoes, or other winter squash such as acorn or butternut.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Place the pumpkin on a rimmed baking sheet, cut side down. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan and place in the oven to roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh from the skin in spoonfuls and set aside.
While the pumpkin is roasting, place the bourbon in a small bowl, add the cranberries and figs, and toss to coat. Let soak, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is plump, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large, ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and golden. Add the sausage and continue to cook, stirring often until the sausage is cooked through, about 5 additional minutes.
Remove from the heat, add the cornbread, bread, scooped pumpkin, soaked fruit, bourbon, reserved celery leaves, fresh sage, marjoram, salt, dried sage, and pepper, and stir to mix. In a separate bowl, mix together the broth and eggs and stir into the bread mixture to bind and moisten the bread. (The stuffing can be mixed in the same skillet if it is large enough; if not, transfer to a large bowl to mix and return to the skillet to bake.)
Place the skillet in the oven to bake, uncovered, until golden brown on top and firm around the edges, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. If the stuffing begins to brown too quickly, cover with foil and continue to bake. Remove from the oven and serve warm.