Chef’s Choice: Chorizo & Dried Cherry Cornbread Dressing

this month’s foodie selection as recommended by Chef Mark Graves of Marko’s on 2nd, 135 S. 2nd St. in Decatur

The leaves are changing color and dropping from the trees. The temperatures are beginning their downward spiral. This can only mean one thing: Fall is here! With fall comes the start of the holiday season and first up is Thanksgiving. You are probably already starting to plan the menu for your family’s Thanksgiving feast.

In my opinion, Thanksgiving meals are great, but have a high tendency to get boring and repetitive as the years go on — especially if you have more than one family’s house to visit. One thing is for sure, there will be turkey in some shape or form. I’ve been cooking professionally for 20 years, and I still shy away from turkey duty when it comes to our family get together. One year, it’s great; the next year, it’s dry. Even a perfect recipe can go wrong with everything else going on Turkey Day. With that said, I believe it’s very important to have great side dishes to accompany the turkey. Getting creative and adding new twists to traditional side dishes will also keep Thanksgiving dinner fresh and keep your family members coming back for seconds! And nobody will be thinking about that dry turkey you spent hours preparing. When I think of a traditional side dish, the first thing that comes to mind is dressing. So to spice up that old dressing dish, how about this year you try a Chorizo and Dried Cherry Cornbread dressing? And to wash it down, I’m going to pair a 2012 Butternut Chardonnay. And for the after feast: drink Butterscotch Coffee.

Chorizo & Dried Cherry Cornbread Dressing

chorizo3⁄4 lb. chorizo sausage
1 1⁄2 c. dried cherries
1⁄2 c. buttermilk
3 c. celery
2 c. onions
1⁄2 c. fresh sage
3 c. soft, fresh breadcrumbs
4 eggs (lightly beaten)
7 c. chicken broth
1 T. black pepper.
1 T. kosher salt
1 recipe cornbread crumbles (see below)

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add
chorizo and cook 4-5 minutes or until browned, then add onions and celery; continue to
cook until tender. Drain excess fat, then stir in fresh sage and remove from heat.
2) In a large mixing bowl, stir together cornbread crumbles and breadcrumbs, then add eggs,
chicken broth, black pepper, kosher salt, cherries and chorizo mixture. Mix well.
3) Add mixture to a well greased baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until
golden brown.

Cornbread Crumbles

1 c. all-purpose flour
2 T. sugar
3 c. buttermilk
3 eggs
1⁄2 c. butter (melted)
3 c. self-rising white cornmeal mix
1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix cornmeal mix, flour and sugar in a large bowl, then
whisk in buttermilk, eggs and butter. Pour batter into lightly greased 13×9-inch pan. Bake for
30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely, then crumble.

Pairs well with

2012 butternut chardonnayThe 2012 Butternut Chardonnay is a perfect blend of new and old style chardonnay. It’s flavors and aromas of peach, hazelnut and cream are balanced perfectly with sweet oak. Butternut’s chardonnay grapes come from growing regions, which include Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Monterey. Butternuts versatility makes it the perfect wine to pair with your Thanksgiving dinner.

For a good after-dinner drink to settle a full belly and snap you out of your food coma, may I suggest a butterscotch coffee. Mix the following together and top with whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg.

Butterscotch Coffee

butterscotch coffee1 oz. butterscotch Schnapps or liqueur
1 oz. Baily’s Irish Cream.
Whipped cream
Ground nutmeg (to garnish)

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