For me, there are few meals that can compare to the Thanksgiving meal. It's the only meal of the year that I eat stuffing, much to my husband's disappointment. It's the only meal of the year that involves cranberries. Mmmm... cranberries... And third, it's the only meal of the year that involves cranberries, stuffing, and mashed potatoes all together on one fork. My fork. Happiness.
But I'll tell you something that is not traditional in my house. I don't like pumpkin pie. Like, at all. I do not like it with a fox. I do not like it in a box. I do not like it cold or hot. I do not like it, I do NOT! I may be deported for this. But before you get all totally annoyed and offended, I do like to use pumpkin in other dishes. Like this one:
Pumpkin Sage Cornbread. Oooooh yeah... I got the idea for this a few years ago out of a magazine that is currently floating around somewhere in my house. I made it two years ago, and promptly lost the darn thing. I looked for it all year last year and again this year and still can't find it, so I just gave up and made it up. And you know what? I like my version better! Hah! Take that random disappearing magazine! One secret to this cornbread is the type of pumpkin you use.
This is a Long Island Cheese Pumpkin. I had never seen one until this year and bought it as a decoration for our party because it was so beautiful. When I was developing the cornbread recipe, the first time I tried to use a sugar-type pie pumpkin. The result was a little underwhelming. I couldn't taste the pumpkin! But this little stunner packs a ton of flavor into her beautiful exterior.
Look at all those flavor pockets! =) It's super easy to cut and cleans like a dream, too.
So, the first thing you need to do to make this cornbread is to roast the pumpkin. Select a good, medium sized pumpkin, about the size of a soccer ball. This recipe only uses about half, but not to worry, I've got big plans for the rest of it!
Slice the pumpkin along the rib lines and arrange on baking sheets (Mine took up two sheets). Roast, uncovered for 30 minutes at 425° or until a knife pierces the flesh easily all the way through. Allow to cool, and remove skins.
Peel enough to make 1 C of pumpkin puree. 5-6 ribs.
Then make it!
Pumpkin Sage Cornbread
3/4 C Bob's Red Mill cornmeal
1/4 C Bob's Red Mill corn grits
1 C all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1 C pumpkin puree
1/4 C vegetable oil
1/4 c pumpkin chunks
1 Tbs finely chopped fresh sage
Combine all ingredients except pumpkin chunks and sage and stir well. Add pumpkin and sage and stir in gently. I bake mine in a cast iron pan that's been pre-heated in the oven. You can use a regular greased metal or glass pan, too. Bake at 425° until the top is slightly browned and a cake tester comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.
Sage? Yes. Pumpkin? Yes! Really steeenkin' yummy? Yeeeees! For Thanksgiving, make this the day of, it's beautiful warm with a little butter.
Now, if you want, you can serve this just as it is at Thanksgiving. It is very, very, very, very good. But if you want to get all crazy and homemade this year, you can do what I'm doing. It's going in to Pumpkin Sage Cornbread Stuffing. You heard me.
To convert your beautiful, delicious, cornbread into stuffing, make this two days ahead. Allow it to cool completely. Then:
Pumpkin and Sage Cornbread Stuffing
1 Tbs butter
2 Stalks celery, sliced
1 Onion, chopped
1 Clove garlic, chopped
1 C Walnuts
4 Stems fresh thyme, soft stems chopped, leaves removed off tough stems
1 Cornbread, crumbled, allowed to dry overnight
1 C Mushroom stock
Salt and Pepper
Saute celery, onion, and garlic in butter until vegetables are soft. At the very end, toss in the walnuts and the thyme and stir until thyme is wilted. Combine the crumbled cornbread with the onion mixture, then add mushroom stock and salt and pepper to taste. Place in a casserole and bake at 350° for 20-30 minutes.
See that funny little tool in the background there? It's an antique food chopper. And it worked like a charm for making the crumbles. If you don't have one, you can just crumble it with your fingers...
This is a great one to make the night before. It stores in the fridge beautifully and is a dream to reheat. (A few minutes at 350° until it's warm throughout).
This recipe will be featured on November's YBR Roundup!