Italians do like to stuff their meats, vegetables and seafood with savory ingredients often using sausage as a key component. Peperoni ripieni (or stuffed peppers) is a favorite dish filled with great Italian flavors and ingredients like eggplant or olives, anchovies, pine nuts and Parmigiano to name a few. Stale bread, such as ciabatta or focaccia with crusts remove and torn into cubed crumbs is used as a filler.
This recipe uses cornbread and salami made with a touch of fennel for a casserole dressing. Italians make their cornbread (pan di mais) with olive oil. It tends to be more dense and not as sweet. Finocchiona or fennel sausage is a popular regional sausage from Tuscany thought to have originated in the Renaissance and possibly even before then. Gastro-history references the use of fennel an alternative to pepper (a key ingredient of the standard salami), which was very expensive at the time while fennel grew wild and abundant in the Tuscan countryside. Either type of cornbread, traditional Southern American style or Italian "polenta bread", will make this casserole dressing a delicious addition to your holiday table.
Makes 8 servings. 1 stick unsalted butter, divided, plus more for pan 12 cups 1" cubes cornbread 1 7 oz. Coro Finocchiona salami, cut into ½" pieces 1 medium onion, cut into ½" pieces 3 celery stalks, cut into ½" pieces 3 garlic cloves, chopped Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper 1 5–7-oz. bag stuffing mix croutons 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Place rack in middle of oven; preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 13x9" glass baking dish. Arrange cornbread in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, tossing halfway through, until golden brown around edges and partially dried out, 25–30 minutes. Let cool.Meanwhile, melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook salami, tossing often, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer salami to a large bowl. Add remaining 7 Tbsp. butter to skillet and let melt. Add onion, celery, and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook (still over medium), stirring occasionally, until very soft, 10–12 minutes. Add croutons and toasted cornbread to salami and gently toss to combine. Add vegetable mixture and any butter in skillet and gently toss again. Drizzle broth over and let it absorb into bread; season with salt and pepper. Toss gently until just combined; season with more salt and pepper if needed. Dressing should be just moist. Transfer to prepared baking dish and bake until golden brown on top and bottom, 40–45 minutes.