GIRLS WEEKEND SLASH “FRIENDSGIVING” / RECIPE: PANCETTA SAGE CORNBREAD STUFFING, November, 2014, Quogue, New York

This past weekend my besties and I had a long overdue girls weekend. Back in our care free early twenties we would take girl trips all the time – rotating between friends and friends of friends country homes during winter but mostly summer for weekends away. In August we’d always go to Alie’s beach house, Memorial Day was usually the Hamptons, we’d spend cold winter nights in the Hudson Valley or go admire the changing leaves in the Catskills during peak fall. We’d always drink, take silly photos, play bored games, craft and cook a lot! Sadly, these girls trips have dwindled due to the fact the fact that we’re all GROWING UP and have significantly less free time. In the past year alone my friends have: produced television series and an award winning film, sold out two art shows, started business school, published books and one has traveled around the world at least three times. We are also spread across four different cities on three different continents. Add boyfriends and pets (ok just Misses Loretta) to that – getting together is difficult and rare! We try to do monthly (more like bi-monthly) brunches but when one of our expats returned home for a two months stint, it was clear a girls weekend was required!

In the end, only four of us could make it but that’s pretty much a critical mass and we headed out to Lizzzy L’s (oh I forgot to mention that I have four best friends named Liz, it’s confusing) country house in Liz H’s borrowed car (thanks for letting us borrow your car even though you couldn’t make it! That’s a real best friends!). Quogue is kind of the Hamptons (and you guys know how I feel about the Hamptons) but it is way before South Hampton (the technical start) and thus infinitely chiller (plus you avoid all that awful traffic on 27!). Also, seeing that it is the off season, the town was so sleepy! Our first stop was the organic super market to buy the provision for our mock “Friendsgiving” dinner! We’ve had a Friendsgiving for a couple of years now but this year logistics got in the way. We figured if we couldn’t get all of our friends together for a feast, we could at least make a feast! We roasted a chicken, some root veggies and I made my most favorite corn bread stuffing which I am SO excited to share the recipe for with you! (Just in the nick-0f-time for the real Thanksgiving!). Other than cooking, we drank A LOT, giggled even more and took some topless photos. After hours of day drinking, sundowners (what I slash South Africans like to call 5 o’clock cocktails), some more wine and too much food we all passed out by 10pm while watching the “House Bunny”  (my pick, duh). In the morning we made yet another meal, enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather and beautiful views of the bay right off Liz’s front porch. It was the perfect relaxing weekend – just what I needed before the hectic holidays (which is not only my favorite time of year but the restaurant’s busiest time of the year). More importantly, it got me super pumped for the next time we’ll all be together (literally ALL of us!) for GIRLS CHRISTMAS!

PANCETTA SAGE CORNBREAD STUFFING

Stuffing is pretty much my favorite thing about Thanksgiving and my mom makes the best stuffing in the world. It has sage, chestnuts, fresh squeezed orange juice and a thousand other secret ingredients. Not daring enough to copy my mom’s recipe, I came up with this recipe a couple years ago for Friendsgiving. I basically put all my favorite things in a bowl, baked it with lots of butter and it was AMAZING. It’s so good I now make for pretty much no reason. Though I never make it for actual Thanksgiving – I don’t want to compete with my mom’s perfection. Technically it’s a “dressing” not a stuffing (my mama always stuffs!) so it’s super easy and fast to make.

Serves 6(ish)

INGREDIENTS

1 package cornbread (I use Jiffy cause it’s cheap and delicious, though you can easily substitute with an organic or gluten free brand)(Or even make you own)

4 oz chopped Pancetta (pretty much Italian bacon)(Though if you can’t find pancetta, substitute with prosciutto NOT bacon)

1 large bunch sage, chopped

1 stick butter, melted (You can use less if you like but why?)

PREP

1. Bake cornbread. If you like big chunks of cornbread in your stuffing, make the cornbread at least one night before and let sit out to get stale. If you’re lazy like me and don’t mind smaller pieces, just let freshly baked cornbread cool at least one hour.

When ready to make!

2. Preheat oven to 375

3. Chop cornbread into large cubes.

4. In a hot pan, fry pancetta until it starts to brown. You don’t want to totally fry the pieces because they will continue to cook in the oven.

5. In a large bowl lightly mix together cornbread, pancetta, chopped sage and half of the melted butter.

6. Transfer ingredients to a greased baking pan and then top with remaining melted butter.

7. Pop in oven for 20-30 minutes, until top is golden and crispy.

TIP

It’s better the next day!

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