Sausage, Cornbread & Tart Cherry Stuffing

Serves 6


  • 1½ loaves cornbread
  • 2 cups pecans
  • 7 leeks (about 1 lb, white & pale green parts only), finely diced and rinsed with cold water
  • 3 celery ribs, finely diced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • ¾ stick (6 tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 4-6 oz. sweet Italian sausage
  • 1-2 cups dried sour cherries
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup mixed chopped herbs: thyme, flat-leafed parsley, rosemary & oregano
  • 2 cups chicken stock


  1. Preheat oven to 325°
  2. Cut corn bread into ½" cubes and in 2 large shallow baking pans bake in middle of oven until just dry, about 20 minutes
  3. Transfer corn bread to a large bowl. In a sauté pan, toast pecans over medium-low heat until insides are golden
  4. Halve leeks lengthwise then cut crosswise into ½" pieces. Wash leeks in a bowl of cold water and lift from water into a sieve to drain
  5. Melt butter in a sauté pan and sweat leeks, celery and onion over moderately low heat, stirring until leeks are tender, about 25 minutes
  6. Remove sausage from casings and break into small pieces. Add sausage to leek mixture and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until sausage is cooked through
  7. In a small heavy saucepan cook sour cherries with sugar and ½" of water over medium-high heat, stirring, 5 minutes or until some begin to burst
  8. Reduce chicken stock down to 1 cup in a small saucepan over medium heat
  9. To bowl of cornbread add pecans, sausage mixture, sour cherries, herb mixture and reduced chicken stock. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper if needed
  10. Cool stuffing completely. Stuffing may be made up to this point 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring stuffing to room temperature before proceeding

For cooking stuffing inside poultry:

  1. Any frozen poultry destined for stuffing should be completely thawed, and the stuffing itself brought to room temperature before it is put into the turkey. Do not stuff your bird the night before you cook it; such a seeming time-saver can have dangerous results. Instead, it is best to loosely fill the bird's neck and body cavities immediately before roasting. Always use a meat or instant-read or digital thermometer: The meat is done when the temperature of the thickest part of the thigh (be careful not to touch the bones) reaches 180°; the stuffing baked inside the bird is done at 160°-165°
  2. After roasting, let your stuffed poultry stand 15 to 20 minutes, a double assurance that the requisite temperatures for food safety have been reached

For cooking all or part of stuffing outside poultry:

  1. In a shallow baking dish bake stuffing in preheated 325° oven for 15-20 minutes, covered. Raise the oven temperature to 350º-375º and bake an additional 10 minutes, uncovered