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Cornbread Stuffing with Salt Pork from the Ridge

Cornbread Stuffing with Salt Pork from the Ridge

Drums of Autumn

My thoughts of luxuriant wallowing were interrupted by the emergence from the woods of Ian and Myers, the latter with a brace of squirrels hung from his belt. Ian proudly presented me with an enormous black object, which on closer inspection proved to be a turkey, fat from gorging on the autumn grains.

“Boy’s got a nice eye, Mrs. Claire,” said Myers, nodding approvingly. “Those be wily birds, turkeys. Even the Indians don’t take ’em easy.”

It was early for Thanksgiving, but I was delighted with the bird, which would be the first substantial item in our larder. So was Jamie, though his pleasure lay more in the thing’s tail feathers, which would provide him with a good supply of quills.

Diana Gabaldon, Drums of Autumn (Chapter 12 – Hearth Blessing)

Cornbread Stuffing with Salt Pork

Ok, so there’s no actual stuffing in that excerpt. You probably noticed that.

There is, however, mention of a turkey and Thanksgiving…and since that bird is eventually going to get roasted over the hearth, I thought we should get some stuffing — or dressing, if you prefer — ready to go alongside.

It was also the number one answer when I asked fans on the Outlander Kitchen Facebook page what you recipe you wanted to see in time for US Thanksgiving on November 26.

Cornbread Stuffing with Salt PorkEverything in this recipe -aside from the olive oil, which would have been replaced with more butter or lard – COULD have been found on Fraser’s Ridge, eventually; Claire most likely grew all of these veggies and herbs in her garden; there were certainly pigs around, and due to a lack of refrigeration, the majority of all meat was preserved with salt; and if they couldn’t trade with the Native Americans for the cranberries, there were any other number of varieties of fruit around to use instead.

It’s also a great way to use up day old cornbread. It’s not gluten free, but it’s easily adaptable, either by using your own GF recipe for cornbread or by substituting your favourite GF flour mix for the all-purpose listed in the recipe.Cornbread Stuffing with Salt Pork

 

The traditional recipe for cornbread comes to you straight from a North Carolina, and belongs to one of my cookbook recipe testers, Anna. It was passed down to her from her mother, a first generation Italian American who most likely learned it from her mother-in-law, who was from an Irish immigrant family and born in Tennessee.

Did you follow that?

It sounds to me like the start of one of Jamie’s involved dissertations on the origins of his family. Or like one of my maternal grandmother’s, a first generation Danish Canadian, who as the strongest of eight sisters, was chosen to accompany her father to set up a new life in Canada for the rest of their family in 1920.

Most of us in North America, including myself and my fellow Canadians who celebrated Thanksgiving in October, are from somewhere else originally. I wish everyone south of the 49th parallel a holiday full of food, love and family — whether you have been here for 300 years or 3 weeks.

Happy Thanksgiving.image

 

(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)

Cornbread Stuffing with Salt Pork

A delicious mix of golden cornbread, crisp bits of pork and savoury vegetables straight from the Ridge that will have everyone around your Thanksgiving table asking for seconds.

The ingredient list looks daunting, but it includes a recipe for cornbread that uses the fat rendered from the salt pork. Substitute a 1½ to 2 pound loaf of store-bought cornbread if that makes life easier during what is already a crazy holiday weekend.

Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound salt pork, in ½-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, julienned
  • ¾ pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 medium carrots or parsnips, grated (I used 1 of each)
  • 3 medium stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced sage
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1½ cups chicken stock

Cornbread:

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (optional – I did not use it)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk clabbered with 1 tablespoon vinegar)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup bacon fat

Method:

Place the cubed salt pork in a cold 8-inch cast iron skillet set over medium heat. Cover with a lid and cook until the fat is rendered, stirring very occasionally, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the lid and cook until the pork is crisp. Scoop the pork onto a plate with a slotted spoon, and set aside ¼ cup of fat for the cornbread, saving the rest for another purpose. Clean the pan.

Move the rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425℉.

Make the cornbread: in a large heatproof bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Heat the salt pork fat in the cleaned 8-inch skillet until the fat and the skillet are hot.  Add the milk and beaten egg to the dry ingredients mix until just combined, and pour in the fat. Stir quickly again and pour into the hot skillet.  Bake until a toothpick comes clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing to a metal rack to cool completely.

In a large heavy frying pan, heat the butter and olive oil over medium until bubbling. Add the onions, mushrooms, carrots/parsnips, garlic, thyme, rosemary, remaining ½ teaspoon of salt, and the pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft and golden, 12 to 15 minutes.

Move the rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350℉. Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

Cut the cornbread into bite-sized cubes, and combine it in a large bowl with the salt pork, vegetables, sage, parsley and dried cranberries. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if required.

Whisk together the beaten eggs and chicken stock. Pour over the cornbread mixture in the bowl and stir to combine. Pour everything into the prepared baking dish and bake, covered with aluminum foil for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook until golden and crisp on top, about 30 more minutes.

Serve hot. Happy Thanksgiving!

Ith do leòr! (Eat Plenty)

Notes:

  • If the core of the parsnip is particularly large and/or woody, remove it with a knife and discard before grating.
  • No fresh herbs? Use about half the amount of dried.
  • Prepare this to where you have mixed the cubed cornbread with the veggies, herbs and cranberries in a bowl up store in the fridge for up to two days before your dinner. Finish as directed when its time to eat.
  • This cornbread recipe is delicious on its own. Serve it warm from the pan with lots of butter.

33 Comments

  1. Rhonda
    November 10, 2015 at 6:28 am

    Yummyness!!! As I sit in my car in my car port reading this post…..Can’t wait to try it!!!

  2. Peggy
    November 10, 2015 at 7:40 am

    This sounds wonderful. I make a similar stuffing, but instead of salt pork, I use turkey breakfast sausage. You’d probably need to adjust the seasoning because the sausage brings its own flavors, but it’s a good alternative if you don’t care to use pork. (I’m sure Claire didn’t have turkey sausage hanging around, but I do.) The dried cranberries really do add a wonderful tartness. I usually make double the amount we need for the holiday so the kids can take some home!

  3. Joanne Platt
    November 10, 2015 at 7:43 am

    I love these recipes. I am going to pass this on to my daughter in law and to my youngest son.Both of these young people love to cook and they are good cooks. this just sounds so ummy and i love stuffing at thanksgiving. I can’t wait to taste it. I am on pins and needles waiting for the cookbook.

  4. shannon
    November 10, 2015 at 8:18 am

    How did you know I was going to say “that looks incredible but I need GF”! Thanks so much!

  5. Julie
    November 10, 2015 at 8:31 am

    Totally excited to make this!

  6. Alice Watkins
    November 10, 2015 at 9:04 am

    I’m just curious because I always use baking soda (stirred into the buttermilk so no nasty lumps of soda) in my cornbread but has baking powder really been around that long? (I also use self-raising cornmeal NOT MUFFIN MIX – it is like self-raising flour – so it does probably have baking powder in it as well as flour)

    • Theresa
      November 10, 2015 at 10:31 am

      Alice — I totally blanked on the baking powder! It is totally anachronistic – but baking soda would be too. Colonists primarily used eggs as a leavener with corn meal. Baking soda, then powder both came into common use in cooking in the 19th Century. I always include a chemical leavener in these recipes, though, because without them baked goods are much more dense than our 21st Century palates are used too.

    • Elaine Boyle
      November 10, 2015 at 11:16 am

      I grew up in East Tennessee, and our cornbread was made without flour or sugar – I still make it that way.

    • Anna Lapping
      November 10, 2015 at 12:35 pm

      I make it that way sometimes as well. Where are you in E. TN? I lived in Morristown and Strawberry Plains in the 90’s. Moved to NC in 1999/

    • Anna Lapping
      November 10, 2015 at 12:37 pm

      The sugar was optional. We never use it.

    • Alle ORyllee
      November 22, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      I’m a decent cook but when I see recipes with a lot of ingredients such as the corn bread stuffing I totally back off. However I would like to try to see if I can have an edible outcome. My questions are, What is salt pork & would I need to go to a butcher to buy it? Is there a substitute I can use for salt pork since a few people I’ve invited are on sodium restricted diets. Thank you for your answers.

    • Theresa
      November 22, 2015 at 2:16 pm

      Salt pork is available in most grocery stores, but a butcher will have it for sure. Bacon is the closest sub, but won’t help you with a low sodium diet, so I’m not sure what to suggest…

  7. Anna Lapping
    November 10, 2015 at 9:16 am

    I love all the vegetables in the stuffing! I’ve never thought of putting in shredded carrot and parsnip, but I will try it this year, and also the mushrooms. So happy that you like the cornbread recipe. It’s really good leftover for breakfast, split and buttered before broiling on the cut side only, with jam or honey.

    • Theresa
      November 10, 2015 at 10:26 am

      It’s fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing it with all of us.

    • Kaye D
      November 22, 2015 at 10:39 am

      Anna, When we have beans & cornbread, my “dessert” is a hot buttered piece of cornbread slathered in dark Maple syrup. Yuuuuuumy! My Daddy loved cornbread and buttermilk and my hubby has his with sweet milk. Our Corgis always have their share. This is a cornbread loving family!!

    • Anna Lapping
      November 22, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      We love it too, Kaye!

  8. Michelle Scott
    November 10, 2015 at 11:43 am

    My grandmother makes incredible Thanksgiving dressing. This is the first recipe I’ve read that will give her a “run for her money!” She is 94 and still cooking!!! Pure love.
    Thank you for this!!!!

  9. Anne E
    November 10, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Our son is coming from Seattle and insists on roasting the turkey using his recipe. But the stuffing rx shwon here will be MY contribution to our THX meal. Thank you. It already tastes fabulous in my mind.

  10. Deb Williams
    November 10, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    Hi Theresa,

    Love to try the cornbread and yes it will be a gluten free version. Cornmeal is not something we come across in the supermarkets here in Australia, unless its known by another name. Would polenta be a substitute?

    Can’t wait fir the recipe book to come out next year. Hope we won’t have to wait too long after the US launch to get our hands in it here.

    Cheers dears,

    deb

    • Theresa
      November 10, 2015 at 2:18 pm

      Yes, polenta will work! Don’t know too much about international distribution yet, but I’ll post something as soon as I do!

  11. Laura
    November 10, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    Theresa, this looks so good. Where do you get salt pork? Is it with the bacon and such or do you have to ask the butcher? Also, when you make the stuffing, why 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 rendered fat from the salt pork? Not enough rendered fat or for flavor reasons or something else?

    • Theresa
      November 11, 2015 at 11:32 am

      Hi Laura – I got the salt pork from my small islands grocery store. It’s not cured like bacon – it’s different, but it should be on the same shelf. If you can’t see it, ask the butcher.

      I used all of the pork fat in my cornbread. I also love the taste of butter in stuffing, so I used that, along with the olive oil so the butter didn’t burn. If you’ve got more fat from your salt pork, by all means use that!

    • Mardi priest
      November 18, 2015 at 9:54 pm

      Would pickled pork work? It is a wet piece and usually boiled to cook it…

    • Theresa
      November 20, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      I’ll be honest, Mardi – I had to google pickled pork…and I’m still not sure. But salt pork is wet…so why not try?

  12. Shari Duncan
    November 11, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    I am very excited for this one! Thank you! 🎉
    I have been making stuffing using gluten-free breads for the last several, but I’m thrilled to try another version of stuffing this year. I’ll make this one gf, as well, so I’ll let you know how it turns out. I just might do a trial run beforehand.

  13. Arkay
    November 12, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    Our family’s oldest passed down recipe is for cornbread. Not a drop of flour in it, just corn meal (and no sugar). Best cornbread I’ve ever eaten.

    Hadn’t thought of using salt pork in the dressing, though. Since this Thanksgiving will be all about pork (over 200 pounds of wild hog in the freezer), I’ll just add that to the mix.

    Really looking forward to the cookbook.

  14. CATHY
    November 15, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    LOVE YOUR IDEA USING SALT PORK. THAT WOULD ADD SO MUCH FLAVOR. I WILL TRY IT THIS YEAR IN PLACE OF THE CHESTNUTS I USUALLY USE.

  15. Nancy Carlson
    November 18, 2015 at 7:38 am

    Going to make this in addition to our traditional!

  16. Jan Anderson
    November 18, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm! What’s more homely and comforting than turkey and cornbread stuffing? I love that this is Anna’s family’s recipe! I can’t make it next week as my company has already requested Cassoulet for their side, but it’ll be on my Christmas table for sure! Thanks for sharing Anna and Theresa!

    Aloha nui and happy, safe, love filled holidays everyone! x Jan

    • Anna Lapping
      November 19, 2015 at 5:54 am

      Thanks, Jan, and the same lovely wishes for you and your family.

      Anna

  17. Southernlassie
    November 22, 2015 at 10:28 am

    I’m going to make some cornbread right now! Reading this has made me so hungry & there is nothing in this world better than hot out of the oven, buttered cornbread! Mom used to put sugar I but I like it without the sweetness.
    Thank you for sharing your recipe.🙏

  18. Wendy Scott
    November 22, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    With oven space being a premium on Thanksgiving, do you think this be cooked in the crockpot? If so, what temperature and how long?

    • Theresa
      November 22, 2015 at 2:15 pm

      I’m sure it can, but I really have no idea how long…have you tried googling Crock Pot Cornbread stuffing/dressing?

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