Thanksgiving-Cornbread and Sunflower Seed Stuffing

Our traditional stuffing. For Thanksgiving we use cornbread, the grain of America. Stuffing needs to be tasted and seasoned as you prepare, a reason to not use raw eggs. Hold back on the salt as the natural juices of the bird and sausage add sodium. This recipe makes 4-5 quarts of stuffing. The rule of thumb is ¾ cup of stuffing per pound of turkey. A 15-pound turkey holds 11-12 cups. Bake extra stuffing separately adding broth.
Sunflowers are native to North America and have been cultivated for thousands of years. Used for snacks and cooking, the seeds are one of our best sources of Vitamin E.

2 lb. cornbread, semi-dried and crumbled for stuffing (three boxes of prepared Jiffy Cornbread is a possibility )*
1 lb. bulk lean turkey sausage or diced smoked turkey sausage
3 tablespoons butter
2-3 large onions, peeled and diced (1.5 lbs.)
1.5 lbs chopped celery, use the outer green stalks from two heads)
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, 2 teaspoons fresh
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon dried rosemary or 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon butter(in addition to above)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup dried cranberries
½ teaspoon salt if needed

To prepare cornbread, use your favorite recipe or cornbread mix and cook according to directions. If you can find a cornbread stuffing mix that is not overly seasoned use it.* When cool crumble onto a two large cooking sheets and place in a 200-degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and stir well and let cool. In an extra large skillet begin slowly cooking sausage, stirring occasionally and breaking into small pieces. While sausage cooks chop onions, celery and mushrooms. If celery leaves are in good condition include them. Melt butter in skillet with sausage and add chopped vegetables. Over medium heat sauté until onions are translucent and add seasonings. In a small skillet melt butter and add sunflower seeds, stir them about until lightly toasted. Combine all the ingredients in your largest mixing bowl, including cranberries. This makes a fairly dry stuffing if you prefer one that is moist add broth. Taste and adjust seasonings. Stuffing can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Remove from refrigerator an hour before using as extremely cold stuffing will slow the cooking time of your turkey. It is recommended that turkey thigh temperature be 180 degrees and interior of the stuffing be 165 degrees for turkey to be considered done.
I find *Mrs. Cubbison’s seasoned cornbread is lightly and pleasantly seasoned. Three boxed provide the amount needed for this recipe. Since it is very dry you will need to add broth, if you can only find highly salted broth use white wine or apple cider.

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