Apple-pecan cornbread dressing



½ cup unsalted butter
3 cups yellow or white cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon olive oil
6 slices bacon
2 cups diced onions
1½ cups diced celery
3 cups peeled, cored, and diced apple
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons dry rubbed sage
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne
1½ cups toasted pecans
4 ½ cups reduced-sodium chicken or turkey broth
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

To Prepare the Cornbread:
Place ½ cup butter in a 9 x 13-inch baking pan; heat in oven at 425° for 4 minutes.

Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; whisk in eggs and buttermilk. Pour hot butter into batter, stirring until blended. Pour batter back into 9 x 13-inch pan. Bake at 425°F for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer cornbread to a cooling rack and cool completely. Crumble cooled cornbread into a large bowl and set aside. Reduce oven to 350°F.

To Prepare the Dressing:
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, 8 to 10 minutes or until crispy. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add onion, celery and apples to the skillet and sauté 1 minute. Add garlic and thyme and continue cooking for 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened.

Spoon onion mixture into bowl with cornbread crumbles. Stir in sage, salt, pepper, cayenne, and pecans. Whisk together broth, butter, and eggs and pour over cornbread mixture, tossing until well moistened.

Spoon dressing into a lightly greased 11 x 15-inch (about 5 quart) baking dish and bake covered at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes. Uncover and cook and additional 10 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Serve hot.

GDA Cooking - October 8, 2010