Something Southern: Cornbread Dressin’

We’re coming up on Thanksgiving here in the U.S. and that brings up a great and powerful debate:

Dressin’ (no there is no “g”) vs. Stuffing

In the South, the rule is hands down cornbread dressin’.  And it goes in a casserole dish, not inside the bird itself (which is a highly questionable practice from an avoiding salmonella standpoint anyway).  This is a moist and delicious side that goes with the turkey.  There is some debate whether turkey or chicken goes IN the dressin’ (The answer?  NO, IT DOESN’T–this is a side dish for the turkey, not a casserole for a church potluck).  But one area where, I think, most Southerners agree, dressin’ is never ever made with sweet cornbread.   None of your blue box Jiffy crap.  Cornbread dressin’ should be made with proper (preferably homemade) buttermilk cornbread.

And here, I am sharing with you my grandmother’s dressin’ recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1 cup of diced celery
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup (I use 98% fat free) (Note for gluten free folks, Pacific foods cream of soups are the best option I’ve found for both soups.)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (also 98% fat free)
  • 5-6 slices of white bread, torn into pieces (Note for gluten free eaters, I have used this bread successfully–but cut down to 4 thin slices…it absorbs more liquid)
  • 2 pans good, homemade cornbread [I highly recommend this recipe] (if you go with a mix, do NOT under any circumstances buy sweet cornbread–it DOES NOT WORK for this recipe–STEP AWAY FROM THE JIFFY MIX–find a mix that says buttermilk cornbread–and for heaven’s sake, use a cast iron skillet to cook it. You only do this once a year, so do it right.)
  • 1 pinch (1/8th tsp) poultry seasoning
  • good chicken stock (either roast your own chicken and boil the skin and bones, or buy a rotisserie one at the grocery, have a couple meals off of it, and boil the skin and bones of that–see my post about batch cooking for how to make your own chicken stock).
  • 6 eggs

Directions

  1. This works best if you bake the cornbread the day before and allow it to dry out overnight.
  2. Crumble the cornbread into a large bowl. Add the 2 cans of soup and mix well.
  3. Add the onions and celery and the eggs. Mix well.
  4. Add the white bread. Mix well.
  5. Add enough chicken stock to make the consistency just on the soupy side of moist.
  6. Add poultry seasoning. Mix well. Please note there is NO SAGE in this recipe. It overpowers the other flavors. Don’t use it.
  7. Pour the mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish.
  8. You may freeze the dressin at this point if you’re making it ahead of time. Just be sure to thaw completely before popping it in the oven at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes. The edges should be golden brown.
  9. If you like moister dressin’, drizzle more chicken stock over the dressin’ before baking. If you like it dryer, don’t add as much.
  10. Serve with turkey and giblet gravy (if you’re into giblet gravy…I’m not…the rest of my family is).

 

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One comment

  1. You are SO right about not using sweet cornbread. That’s a definite no-no. It does NOT belong inside the turkey, like you said. And I agree that there should be no meat in it. It’s a side dish, not a main dish, and I prefer it not to contain meat. See, I’m Southern, too! And you’ve made me very hungry! I love dressin’ SO much.

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