Both of these recipes are slightly modified versions of the ones that appeared in the November/December 2010 issue of Grit magazine in the article “Party Like the Pilgrims” by Tony Leland.
While I was initially doubtful about the Fruity Cornbread Dressing recipe, it was an instant hit. Pay attention to weights when chopping up the prunes, as 12 ounces of prunes is actually quite a bit. Also, between family holiday meals & a couple potlucks, I’ve found that if you don’t tell anyone what is in the dressing no one will figure out there are prunes in it; everyone who notices the small dark bits of fruit assumes they must be cranberries.
Fruity Cornbread Dressing
- 12 ounces dried prunes, chopped
- 1-1/2 cups water, divided
- 1 pound pork sausage, herb or sage flavor (often called country sausage in the grocery stores)
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 medium chopped onion
- 2 medium tart cooking apples, peeled & chopped
- (optional) 2-3 stalks finely chopped celery
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 2 packages (8 oz each) cornbread stuffing mix OR (if the cornbread stuffing mix is a bit rich or heavily salted) 1 package cornbread stuffing & 8 oz plain bread cubes
If this will be kept warm for a while before serving, it can be put in the oven at 300 F to bake it a bit & crisp the top. Otherwise, if you have a large enough pan it can all be mixed on the stove.
In a small saucepan, bring prunes & 1/2 cup water to a boil. Reduce heat & cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat & set aside.
Saute sausage until lightly browned. Remove from pan & set aside. Discard in drippings, melt butter in the skillet & cook onion & apples (& celery if using) until tender.
If cooking it all on the stove, deglaze skillet with remaining cup of water, pour all into large saucepan & heat until simmering. Add in stuffing mix, sausage, prunes & water, & molasses. Stir to combine, heat until steaming and serve.
If baking in the oven, after onion & apples are lightly sauted in the butter, put all ingredients in a 13 x 9 x 2 pan, stir to combine, bake at 300 F.
- 1 pound fresh cranberries, rinsed
- 1 cup sugar (can be white, brown, or turbinado)
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 cup water
- 1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
- 1 medium chopped tart apple (1 cup)
- 1-2 stalks chopped celery (1/2 cup)
In a large, heavy saucepan, combine cranberries, sugars, spices & water. Cook over medium heat until juice is released from cranberries, about 15 minutes. Stir frequently.
Add remaining ingredients and reduce heat to simmmer. Cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until mixture thickens. Stir occasionally.
Chill before serving.
Note: I usually try to cut down the amount of sugar I find in most recipes, but left this recipe as is because with less sugar the cranberries had a very unpleasant bitter taste.