Ahhh, the great stuffing vs. dressing debate. Is it only stuffing if it’s in the bird? Dressing if it’s on the side? What if it’s stuffed in squash? Mostly bread? Meat? What kind? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Welp, when it comes down to it… zilch. Everyone’s got their own thing.
In my family, we have always called it stuffing. It’s never been in the bird. We’ve never used the word dressing… unless you’re talking about salad dressing…and well, we prefer our squashes stuffed.
Whatever you call it. Wherever you put it. I think we can all agree that it’s delicious.
When al fresco all natural reached out and asked if I’d like to participate in their November recipe challenge*… I, one, was excited — because if you eat my house, you will eat any number of their sausages on a regular basis, and, two,
I then knew exactly what I wanted to make. Cornbread stuffing in a buttery delicata squash boat.
But, wait… what about browned butter? Oh, now we’re on to something.
There’s something about savory al fresco fresh chicken sausage combined with toasty brown butter, and sweet cornbread just sounds like a home run.
So I combined al fresco all natural Fresh Sausage and cornbread with some browned butter and a bunch of aromatic pantry staples to make, what I think, is a showstopper of a squash that’d be perfect for Thanksgiving, or Friendsgiving… or well, any day!
al fresco Sausage & Cornbread-Stuffed Delicata Squash
- 3 corn muffins (equivalent to approximately 4.5 cups of cubed cornbread)
- 3 delicata squashes, sliced lengthwise down the middle (acorn would work, too!)
- 1 stick of unsalted butter, divided
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 14 ounce packages of al fresco Fresh Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage (raw), casing removed
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes (to taste)
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 large Granny Smith Apple, chopped (I keep the peel on, but if you prefer to take the peel off, go ahead)
- 2 large ribs of celery, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon of low sodium chicken base
- 1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning (salt-free)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- cracked black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 5-7 fresh sage leaves, chopped finely
- 1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 – 1/3 cup no-salt chicken stock
- Optional, for garnish: fresh parsley, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, additional brown-butter sage panko breadcrumbs
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Cut or break apart your corn muffins or bread into small pieces and place on a baking sheet. Place tray into the oven and allow to bake until they are toasty but not completely dry. Once the corn muffins are toasted, remove from oven and increase the temperature to 400 degrees F.
Split your delicata squashes length-wise and scrape out the seeds to form a boat. Place all of the cleaned squash pieces cut side up on a oiled sheet tray. Cut up 4 tablespoons of butter and divide evenly among the squashes. Season with salt and pepper and place into the over for 25-30 minutes, until tender. Once tender remove from oven and set pan aside.
Preheat a large skillet on the stovetop with olive oil. Remove al fresco sausage from casing and place into hot skillet. Break up the sausage and cook until golden brown. Once browned, transfer sausage to a large bowl to cool.
While sausage cooks, chop your onion, apple, celery and garlic. After transferring cooked sausage to a bowl, add 2.5 Tablespoons of butter to the existing skillet and allow the butter to brown. Once a toasty, golden brown, add your chopped fresh ingredients as well as your poultry seasoning and chicken base. Once mixture is softened, add white wine and allow it to deglaze the pan. Once the wine has been absorbed/evaporated, transfer the mixture to a large bowl to cool.
Carefully wipe out hot pan with a paper towel, and then place back on heat with remaining butter. Allow the butter to reach a deep brown, and then add the fresh chopped sage (be careful this may splatter). Once the sage is fragrant, add panko to the butter and toast until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Once toasted, move to a separate small bowl or plate to cool.
Step 6 In a large bowl, combine sausage and onion/apple mixture and then gently fold in toasted cornbread.
Step 7 Scoop approximately 1 cup of the sausage stuffing mixture into each squash boat (this may be more or less depending on the size of your squash). Once each boat is filled, drizzle a couple Tablespoons of stock over each squash and then top with a sprinkling of the brown butter, sage panko mixture.
Step 8 Place boats back into a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until everything is just warmed through and slightly browned on the top! Top with some of your favorite garnishes and enjoy!
*This post is in partnership with al fresco all natural. While I received free product in exchange for this post, opinions are my own.