James Beard’s Corn Bread Stuffing
During the forty years I lived in Houston, I made corn bread oyster stuffing based on a James Beard recipe. Galveston Bay oysters are great, and the stuffing was delicious every time. But now that I live in Santa Fe, where good, fresh seafood is hard to come by, I make the stuffing with green-chile pork sausage from Red Mesa Meats. My heritage breed turkey comes from Pollo Real.
Sometimes, instead of the onions that Beard calls for, I use shallots, or a combination of onions and shallots, which are abundant at the market most of the year. And instead of Madeira, I use the excellent port from La Chiripada in Dixon, NM.
- 10 tablespoons butter
- ½ cups finely chopped onions
- 1 pound well-seasoned sausage meat
- The liver of the turkey, finely chopped
- About 8 cups coarsely crumbled corn bread
- ½ to 2 teaspoons salt to taste
- teaspoons freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- ½ teaspoon sage
- ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
- ½ cup Madeira
- Saute the onions in the butter in a large skillet until they are just pale gold. Remove to a mixing bowl.
- Add the sausage to the skillet, break it up with a fork, and let it cook several minutes over medium heat. When it is lightly browned, add the chopped liver. Brown it for 2 to 3 minutes with the sausage meat, and add it to the onions in the bowl.
- Add the corn bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and the rest of the seasonings. Mix well with the hands and add the Madeira. Taste for seasoning and stuff the bird.
- Omit sausages and add 1 cup whole kernel corn and 1/2 cup finely chopped green chiles (or 1 cup, if you like the taste of chiles). Substitute 1/2 cup cognac for the Madeira.
- Omit sausages. Sauté 1/2 pound sausage meat with the onions, breaking it up well. Add to the stuffing with 1 cup pecans.
- Omit sausages. Add 1 1/2 cups finely shredded Smithfield ham to the stuffing. Sauté the onions in ham fat instead of butter.
- Omit sausages. Add 2 cups crisp crumbled bacon to the stuffing. Sauté onions in bacon fat.
- Omit sausages and celery. Add 2 cups coarsely chopped ham and 2 cups coarsely chopped roasted and salted peanuts. If peanuts are not to your liking, you may substitute toasted and salted filberts.
- If you like oysters in a stuffing, add about 2 dozen oysters with their liquid.
This locally inspired recipe is brought to you by Pam Walker. Pam is an avid home cook, writer, and local farm and food activist who is also a board member of the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Institute. Thank you, Pam, for helping inspire us to use locally sourced ingredients!