04 December 2013

My Cornbread Dressing

My family’s dressing heritage is super, duper intimidating.  My dad’s mom made was I believe was the best dressing in the universe ever.  Ever.  Unfortunately she developed dementia and went downhill so quickly that I could never get the recipe.  I have been working on my own version ever since.  I don’t think I’m there quite yet.  I’m not sure that I ever could be.  There’s something about that grandmother’s touch that just can’t be duplicated.  My mom’s mom was no slouch at the dressing, either.  I get from all sides.

There are a couple of really essential things about dressing.  First, this is dressing and not stuffing.  Stuffing goes inside the cavity of a bird and bakes along with that bird.  Dressing doesn’t get stuffed inside anything other than your mouth.  Second, Southern dressing is made using both cornbread and regular bread.  Stuffing is usually composed primarily of bread cubes and there is no cornbread involved.  To a Southerner, stuffing is more akin to bread pudding than the stuff we eat on holidays.  And last but not least, it is not possible to add too much sage.  The sage is the key, so if you think it looks like too much, just close your eyes and cross your fingers.  I promise it will all work out. 

I made my own little twists to the dressing this year.  I added dried cranberries, which I am slightly obsessed with right now.  I also threw in some chopped pecans.  Pecans are pretty much never a bad thing (at least in my opinion).  You can leave these two things out of your dressing and end up with a really delicious traditional dressing, but leave them in and you get something pretty darn special.  You can also use any cornbread for this recipe.  You can use store bought or you can make your own.  Just be sure that what ever one you use is savory and not sweet.

My Cornbread Dressing

7 cups day old cornbread, crumbled
8 slices day old sandwich bread, torn
4 eggs
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
Two 10 3/4 oz can cream of chicken soup
1 Tbsp dried sage
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped, toasted pecans
2 Tbsp butter, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray a large roasting pan with nonstick spray; set aside.  Combine all ingredients except butter  in a very large bowl; mix well.  Spoon the dressing into the prepared roasting pan; dot with the 2 tablespoons of butter.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake, uncovered for another 20-30 minutes, or until the dressing is set, but still moist.  Serve warm.  Store any leftovers in a covered container up to one week.

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