HOW TO MAKE CORNBREAD DRESSING LIKE A REAL SOUTHERNER
Thanksgiving turkey isn’t complete without moist, yummy cornbread dressing. It’s taken me years to get this one right, so I’ll share my experience with you.
First, my wonderful mother, Betty – who adored Thanksgiving and cooked for weeks in anticipation of hosting a crowd that day – died on Halloween 1999 and left me, the eldest child, to make our first holiday meal without her. I had no idea what to do. Thank goodness she left recipes, although some have taken years to get just right. (You know how cooks are about secrets.)
This is her cornbread dressing, which I like topped with a splash of smooth turkey giblet gravy. It’s also fabulous to slice thinly onto leftover turkey sandwiches with homemade mayonnaise and a sliver of cranberry sauce. Goodness, my mouth waters just thinking about it.
CORNBREAD DRESSING A LA BETTY
FIRST THE CORNBREAD:
- Mixing bowl
- Measuring equipment
- Wooden spoon
- Medium-size cast iron skillet
- 2 cups yellow corn meal (stone-ground, if you can get it)
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
- 3/4 teaspoon soda
- 1 egg
- 2 large tablespoon of cooking oil, melted shortening or bacon fat
(There is no salt in this because you’ll add salt to the dressing mixture.)
LET’S GET STARTED
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees with the iron skillet in oven.
Mix buttermilk and the egg. Dissolve baking soda in the buttermilk egg mixture. Stir and mix into corn meal. Add 1 tablespoon of melted oil/shortening/bacon fat.
Into your hot skillet, pour 1 tablespoon of cooking oil, then pour cornbread mix. Smooth out evenly with wooden spoon.
Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from oven and cool. (You can make cornbread ahead of time, freeze it and bring it out when you’re ready to make the dressing.)
NOW THE CORNBREAD DRESSING:
NOTE: When I make dressing, I make a lot of it – maybe 2-3 times as much as this recipe calls for, so I adjust ingredients accordingly. I also mix it in my 4-gallon gumbo pot with a long-handled wooden spoon.Alton Brown would love this multi-use.
- large mixing bowl
- large sauce pan or medium dutch oven
- chopping board
- chopping knife
- measuring equipment
- wooden spoon
- 1 pan of cornbread (per recipe above)
- 2 cups chopped celery (4-6 stalks)
- 1 stick butter or margarine
- 1 cup chopped onion (1 medium onion)
- 1 package herb-seasoned bread croutons (Kellogg’s and Pepperidge Farm are my favorites)
- 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
- salt, pepper (1 teaspoon each)
- chicken broth (total 10 cups)
- 4 raw eggs
LET’S GET STARTED
In a large sauce pan or dutch oven, cook celery, onions and butter/margarine in about 4 cups of broth. Cook until tender (15-20 minutes).
In large mixing bowl or stewpot (for me, that’s the gumbo pot), crumble corn bread and add seasoned croutons. Then add salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Combine thoroughly.
Pour broth/celery/onions mixture into your cornbread pot and combine with wooden spoon.
Add 6 cups broth, beaten eggs and combine thoroughly. Your dressing mixture will be almost “soupy.” Remember, you are making a pudding of sorts, and you will bake it until it’s the consistency you want. But it needs to start out “wet” or it will end up dry. (This wet state is important. Don’t be afraid of it. My children are sick of my annual invitation to them to “come, look at the dressing.” I want to make sure they know what it’s suppose to look out because I didn’t know when I first took on this responsibility.)
Pour dressing mixture into 9×13” casserole and bake 45-60 mins.
Start out with it covered by foil, then remove foil with 15 mins to go so the top can brown. Check it for doneness like you do a cake by sticking in toothpick. If it comes out clean, it’s ready. Serves 8 to 10.
All images are courtesy of Patsy Brumfield and www.newinnola.com