Start to finish: 2 hours 15 minutes
Hands on time: 1 hour
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
4 cups Italian bread, cut up into 1 inch cubes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1-1/2 lb mild sausage of your choice
1 large onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
2 teaspoons dried sage leaves
1 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup dried cranberries
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4-1/2 to 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F and butter a 9-inch x 13-inch pan and a large 4-qt casserole.
In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In the mixer bowl add the buttermilk, eggs and melted butter, and mix together on medium speed. Add the dry ingredients and continue to mix just until combined. Transfer batter to the 9-inch x13-inch prepared pan.
Bake corn bread until edges are lightly browned and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20- 30 minutes. Cool completely. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Wrap tightly in foil and store at room temperature.)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cut cornbread into 1-inch cubes. Spread on 2 large baking sheets with the cubed Italian bread. Bake until dry but not firm, about 25 minutes. Cool. Or arrange bread on baking sheets and set out to dry overnight.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and sauté until brown and cooked through, breaking into small pieces with back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Add in the onions and celery and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the bread, cornbread, sausage mixture, butter, parsley, thyme, sage, pecans, cranberries and eggs and toss together. Add enough stock to thoroughly moisten, but not drench the stuffing.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Transfer stuffing to prepared casserole dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down; bake until heated through, about 40 minutes (longer if cold from the refrigerator). Uncover and bake until top is crisp and golden, about 20 minutes.
Make-ahead: This dish can be assembled and kept refrigerated up to 4 hours before baking. Or you can make all the components a day or so ahead and just assemble them right before baking, ie: make cornbread and lay out bread on sheet pans to dry overnight, cook sausage and vegetables and refrigerate, measure out pecans and cranberries and just toss it all together with the eggs and stock right before baking.