An Alternative to Thanksgiving Stuffing: Corn and Chipotle Bread Pudding (and a Tasty Stuffing too)

A few friends asked for our favorite Thanksgiving stuffing recipe. However, the last few years I haven’t made stuffing but rather individual ramekins of Corn and Chipotle Bread Pudding instead. It fits the bill for a starchy side, but it quite unique and delicious. The chipotle lends a warmth and smokiness that contrasts nicely with the sweet flavor the corn provides.

Corn and Chipotle Bread Pudding
6 servings

2 t olive oil
1/2 C finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 C finely chopped onion
2 C frozen corn kernels
1/2 C thinly sliced green onions
1 jalapeño pepper, minced - remove the seeds for those who don't care for heat
1 garlic clove, minced
1 t salt, divided
1 t ground cumin, divided
1 1/2  C 2% low-fat milk
2 eggs
1 C shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
1 T finely chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
About 10 cups 1-inch cubed day-old firm white bread
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper and onion, and sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add corn, green onions, jalapeño, and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon cumin. Remove from heat; cool slightly.

Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon cumin, milk, eggs, 1/2 cup cheese, and chipotle chiles in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Stir in corn mixture. Add bread; stir gently to combine. Let stand 10 minutes. Spoon into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray – or – six individual ramekins. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. 

**These can be made ahead, covered, and refrigerated until time to bake. I'd bring to room temperature before baking.

Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until pudding is set and lightly browned.

Sourdough Sausage Stuffing
10 servings

3 Italian sausage links
olive oil
2 C chopped onions
2 C chopped celery
2 smallish chopped apples
Few handfuls of fresh cranberries, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 T finely chopped fresh sage
1 t thyme
1/2 t salt
1/2 t dried marjoram
1/2 t black pepper
12 C 1/2-inch cubed sourdough bread, about 1 pound – or rosemary focaccia is wonderful in stuffing
2 C fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove casings from sausage. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add sausage and sauté 5 minutes until browned, stirring to crumble. Add onion, celery, apples, and cranberries and sauté 3 minutes. Stir in parsley and next 5 ingredients (parsley through pepper).

Place sausage mixture in a large bowl; stir in bread and broth. Spoon stuffing into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cover and bake at 350° for 15 minutes.

Uncover; bake an additional 20 minutes or until golden brown.

I've also included what we seem to recall as our best traditional stuffing. Craig swore he hated stuffing. One taste of this one, and he is a convert. As with the bread budding, I like balancing savory and sweet flavors, which this has from the sausage and apples/cranberry combo, and it screams autumn. The texture is lovely, too, slightly crunchy on top, yet creamy underneath.

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