Here is a recipe I adapted from the cooking of Kurt Gardner, a New York theater man of great culinary passions who has been contributing the dish to our home for years, usually in proportions large enough to feed boroughs. Rare is the month where there is not a frozen bag of this stuff in our freezer, ready to be deployed.
Reprinted with permission from Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well by Sam Sifton and Sarah Rutherford, copyright © 2012. Published by Random House, a division of Random House, Inc.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9-inch cast-iron skillet or a 12-by-8-by-2-inch pan, and place it in the oven to heat.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and oil. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, add the corn, and stir until just combined. Add the butter and stir once or twice to incorporate.
Remove the hot skillet or pan from the oven, pour batter into it, and give the whole number a smack on the counter to settle it. Put pan in oven to cook until mixture is brown on top and a sharp knife inserted into its center comes out clean, approximately 1 hour. Cornbread can, indeed should, be made ahead of time. If it is slightly stale at the start of the process, so much the better — the dried cornbread leads to a fluffier dressing.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat olive oil in large flat-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add sausage and sauté until browned, approximately 10 minutes. Remove to a large bowl and set aside.
Add onion to the pan and reduce heat to medium, then sauté until onion begins to turn clear and soften, approximately 5 minutes. Add celery and peppers and continue cooking until peppers begin to soften, approximately 10 minutes.
Pour vegetable mixture into bowl with sausage, add chopped cilantro, salt and pepper to taste, and toss to mix.
Return pan to heat and deglaze with a splash of chicken stock, then scrape contents into bowl with sausage and vegetable mixture.
Pour mixture into a large roasting pan and add cubed cornbread, mixing by hand. Add chicken stock to moisten, cover with aluminum foil, and place in oven for 30-35 minutes, or until it is soft and the flavors well incorporated. If you desire a crunchy top, remove foil for final 10 minutes of cooking. Dressing can be made ahead of time and reheated when needed. If dry upon reheating, add additional chicken stock.