Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cornbread Dressing

For my money, you can keep the bird and just pass me the whole pan of cornbread dressing! I love it way too much to make it more than once a year! I am sad to admit that I never watched nor listened to my Mama when she made this but with the help of a good cookbook and my own twists on it, this is as close to my Mama's heavenly Southern Cornbread Dressing that I can get. It's not fancy and I don't want it to be!

1 large pan of cornbread - notes below
8 slices of lightly toasted bread
1 sleeve saltines
1 stick of butter
1 bunch of celery (minced)
1 small onion (minced)
8 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 Tablespoon poultry seasoning
6 eggs (beaten)

Find the biggest dish you have to mix this in!  I use a large rectangle Tupperware container and sometimes I use two of them to make this easier to handle!

Cornbread:  Take my word for it and do this the easy way (Mama, don't read this part)...use Jiffy Mix Cornbread Mix - 3 boxes, prepare according to the directions but add one extra egg (for luck).  Bake @ 350* in a 9x13 greased baking dish until the center is completely done.

Mince the celery and onion.  I use a sweet red onion and I mince all these until I can't get it any finer.  I like it in my dressing but I don't like to bite into a big chunk of anything in particular.  Add the celery and onion to a large skillet, add one stick of butter (sliced) and simmer this mixture on medium then low heat until veggies are translucent.  You may add a splash of water to help keep it wet as this takes about 30 minutes to sweat it all the way down.  Let is cool as you'll be mixing this by hand most likely - I can't mix it any other way but if you've got better "spoon" skills than me, go right ahead!

Pop your bread into the toaster and toast lightly (you want it golden, not dark brown).  Allow to cool and tear into very fine pieces.  Crush one sleeve of saltines into a fine crush.  You can use your hands and crush it really well while it's still in the sleeve.  Start by pushing each end together lengthwise and that will break the majority of the crackers, then just keep squishing it all around until they are completely crumbled.  You can also put them in a zip top bag and beat them with a baseball bat (fine, use a rolling pin if you have one)!

Tear your cornbread into a fine crumble the mix well with bread and saltines.  Add celery and onion mixture over the bread mix.  Add 1/2 the chicken stock then the seasonings of salt, pepper, sage and poultry seasoning.  Begin mixing and gradually add in the remaining chicken stock.  This is when you can taste a sample to adjust your seasonings to suit you. 

Add the beaten eggs and combine everything well.  Bake in a greased baking dish (or two if necessary) at 350* for about 45-55 minutes.  This takes the better part of an hour to cook thru, time will vary depending on how deep you've made it in your baking dish.  Make sure the center is set completely before removing it from the oven.

If you are a giblet gravy maker (and I am not) save a few tablespoons of the uncooked dressing mix to add to your gravy.  I really don't like this but Mama always did it so I'm telling it.

You can make this in advance by a day.  Just cover it REALLY well and keep it in the fridge.  To reheat, brush it with 1/2 cup of chicken stock to moisten it again and warm it up on Thanksgiving morning.

This is so wonderful that I can almost see Mama in that apron at the stove again!

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