A lovely recipe adapted from Bon Appetite magazine.
Make this weeks ahead, freeze and bring out the day before you need it, to thaw slowly.
8 cups cornbread cubes (dried out)
1lb bulk Italian sweet sausage meat or chorizo
10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) butter
1 large fennel bulb, chopped, plus some fronds for serving
4 celery stalks, peeled and chopped
10 scallions, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Bosc or Comice pears, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup Sauvignon Blanc or other dry white wine
3 tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley
1 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh marjoram or oregano
1 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp dried sage leaves
2 cups chicken broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 extra large eggs, beaten to blend
Preheat oven to 300F
If you don’t buy the pre-bagged cornbread cubes, then divide your cornbread cubes between two baking sheets. Bake, tossing occasionally, until beginning to brown in spots, 40 to 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the sausage meat in a large skillet over medium heat, breaking up with a spoon, until dark brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage meat to a small bowl. Let cool
Reduce the heat to medium and heat 8 tbsp butter in the same skillet. Add the fennel, celery, scallions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
Add the pears and wine, increase the heat to medium high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine is almost completely evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Increase the oven temperature to 400 F.
Butter a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish.
Combine sausage, fennel mixture, parsley, marjoram, thyme, sage and 1 1/2 cups broth in a large bowl.
Add the cornbread and toss to combine: season with salt and pepper and let sit for about 10 minutes, then add the remaining 1/2 cup of broth and toss, adding more broth if necessary. (The bread should be moist not soggy)
Add the eggs and mix gently just to combine.
Transfer the dressing to the prepared baking dish and dot with the remaining 2 tbsp butter.
Cover the dressing with foil and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake until the dressing is golden and crisp on top, 20 to 30 minutes longer.
Serve topped with the fennel fronds.