When comfort food comes to mind, thoughts of bread are usually not far behind . . . especially buttery, hot skillet cornbread. But what if I told you that there was something even better — and more "comforting" — to be had? Enter cornbread with Italian turkey sausage, fresh sage, thyme, dried cranberries, and sautéed celery and onions. Sounds like the trappings for cornbread dressing, I know. Except with this dish, they're baked inside the cornbread batter. The result is the ultimate can't-get-enough comfort food. I like to call it elevated cornbread!
Turkey, Herb, and Cranberry Cornbread
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1/2 large onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Ground black pepper and salt, to taste
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 stick (8 ounces) unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon
1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups milk
2 large eggs
In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over a medium-high heat and brown the turkey sausage. Set aside the sausage in a separate bowl. In the same skillet, sauté the onions, celery, sage, thyme, and red pepper flakes, adding a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables are softened, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the skillet, and add to the sausage. Toss in cranberries, and set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the stick of butter in a cast iron skillet and place in the oven until the butter melts, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet, and pour the butter into a large bowl and set aside to cool. Wipe the skillet clean.
In a medium bowl, add the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, and stir to combine. To the large bowl, add the milk and eggs. Toss in the dry ingredients, along with the turkey mixture, and stir until just combined. Take the remaining tablespoon of butter and place in the skillet, and return the skillet to the oven for about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet, and ensure the bottom and sides are fully coated with the melted butter.
Pour the batter into the skillet, and return to the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove to a cooling rack, and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Cut cornbread into individual servings. Serve warm and enjoy!