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Sausage and Walnut Cornbread Stuffing

By Barbara Beltrami

I read someplace (don’t ask me where) some tips for this Thanksgiving when, if we follow the advice of experts on the pandemic, we should by all means celebrate the holiday but avoid large gatherings indoors and do a small intimate dinner with our immediate families and, in some cases, close friends or neighbors who we are sure are not contagious.

Difficult as it may be to forgo the usual groaning board feast, safety should be our primary consideration so that next year we can comfortably gather as we’ve always done. To make the day more celebratory and enjoyable we should first set a festive table. Even the smallest turkey may be too large so roasting a turkey breast or even a chicken might make more sense. The plethora of side dishes should be down-scaled so that it includes everyone’s favorite, of course, and dessert, rather than being an assortment of pies, could be individual tarts.

I’m taking a guess at what are likely to be everyone’s favorite dishes and giving you a little twist on each one. The rest is up to you.

Have a happy healthy and thankful holiday!

Creamy Mashed Potatoes with Chives

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, pared and quartered

Salt to taste

1/2 -2/3 cup half and half, heated

1/4 cup softened unsalted butter

Freshly ground white pepper to taste

1/2 cup snipped chives


Place potatoes in a large saucepan; cover with cold water; add salt and over high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until fork tender but not mushy, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and return to pan, then reduce heat to low and cook, tossing frequently, another two minutes to dry the potatoes out. Place them in a large bowl and using a ricer, food mill or masher, puree them. (Do not use a food processor or you will end up with a gluey mess!) Gradually stir in half and half and butter; add pepper and chives and stir again. Set aside to keep warm. Serve with turkey gravy and all the fixings.

Sausage and Walnut Cornbread Stuffing

YIELD: Makes about 5 cups


4 cups cornbread stuffing mix

1 pound sausage meat, crumbled and browned

1 large onion, diced and browned

1 sprig fresh sage, finely chopped

8 ounces unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup-1 cup hot chicken broth

1 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Place all ingredients in a large bowl and toss thoroughly to combine. When mixture is at room temperature, place in a greased casserole or cavity of turkey which is also at room temperature, just before cooking, no sooner. Bake in 375 F oven for 45 minutes or until top is crispy if in casserole; if in turkey cavity, remove and serve with turkey and fixings.

Candied Sweet Potatoes with Apples and Pears

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


4 small-medium sweet potatoes, pared and quartered, lengthwise

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 large Granny Smith apples, pared, cored and quartered lengthwise

2 medium Bosc pears, pared, cored and quartered lengthwise

3/4 cup brown sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter


Preheat oven to 375 F. Place and space sweet potatoes in large shallow baking pan; season with salt and pepper. Place apples and pears in between sweet potatoes; sprinkle evenly with brown sugar and dot with butter. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until tender and brown on top. Serve with turkey and fixings.