Thursday, November 15, 2012

Southern-Style Cornbread Dressing

So do you call the ubiquitous Thanksgiving side stuffing or dressing?  If you call it stuffing, and you don't cook it inside your turkey... well, you're wrong.  Dressing is served alongside your turkey - which is how most of us eat it these days, what with the risks and worries about salmonella and all.  Anyway, it seems like most people from the south call it dressing, and northerners call it stuffing - why the discrepancy, I don't know... but whatever you call it, here's my very favorite version.

A few years ago, I hosted my first Thanksgiving dinner.  As usual, I had a hard time keeping with tradition, and I thought my family might revolt against me.  I served pumpkin soup.  And topped my sweet potatoes with sautéed apples.  And served roasted brussels sprouts and butternut squash.  And in what was perhaps my biggest error, I made dressing out of sourdough bread.  With bacon and apples.  I'll admit it - I liked it.  The dressing was really good.  But it wasn't traditional dressing that my family was used to.  Here in the south, we make dressing with cornbread and biscuits.  Making dressing out of sourdough bread, with fruit in it?  It was practically blasphemous.

Last year when my mom asked me if I wanted to make the dressing for Thanksgiving, I was admittedly a little scared.  So I decided to try and K.I.S.S. (Office, anyone?) and go with a traditional southern version.  But since I can't resist testing the boundaries a little bit, I chose this recipe.  It's traditional in that it's cornbread, onions, celery, and herbs, but it mixes things up a bit by also using brioche bread in combination with the cornbread.  The result is absolutely heavenly.  The traditional taste is there thanks to the cornbread, but you also have these perfect little pillows of bread from the brioche.  With just enough chicken stock to hold it together - but not so much that it's mushy and soggy.  The celery and onions provide just the right amount of sweetness and texture, the herbs give it tons and tons of flavor, and the butter... well that just makes it perfect.  This dressing really is just about as good as it gets.

Southern-Style Cornbread Dressing
adapted from Sara Foster's Southern Kitchen

  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 celery stalks, chopped, with 1/4 cup leaves chopped and reserved
  • 1 loaf of challah, brioche, or other soft eggy bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 12 cups)
  • about 8 cups cubed cornbread (preferably day-old cornbread)
  • 2 Tbs minced fresh sage
  • 3 Tbs minced fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and golden (about 5-6 minutes).

In a large bowl, toss the bread cubes (both brioche and cornbread) with the cooked celery and onion, reserved celery leaves, sage, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Pour the chicken broth and eggs over the mixture and mix well to combine and moisten the bread.  If the mixture seems really dry, add more broth as needed.

Transfer to the prepared baking dish and cook 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the dressing is heated throughout.  If the top begins to brown too quickly, cover with foil and continue to bake.  Serve warm.

Note:  The dressing can be assembled and refrigerated overnight before baking.  Just add a little extra chicken broth.


Michelle said...

Take out the cornbread and replace the brioche with day old French bread, cubed and toasted, and this is my stuffing! This sound good enough for me to try cornbread dressing. And I'm in charge of it this year.

Joanne said...

We cook it outside the bird and call it stuffing...definitely a northeast thing! If we were having TDay at my mom's this year, I'd SO be making this. In fact...maybe I'll just make a batch for myself...

Winnie said...

I would love to try this. My hubby wants his mom's stuffing on Thanksgiving and so I will do that, but I always wanted to try cornbread stuffing. I bet this would be great with chicken too. Thanks.

Jessica @ Sunny Side Up said...

I love cornbread dressing and usually use the same recipe every year - but I think you've sold me with the brioche!! I might have to make a last minute player swap!

canvas prints said...

this looks yummy. i must try it.

LeAndra said...

Your story about the sourdough bread dressing made me smile. I'm from the north, so my family would have probably looked at me like I was crazy if I used cornbread instead of sourdough. This recipe looks like the best of both worlds.

Anonymous said...

My guests RAVED about this yesterday. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

Jack L said...

It is so timely that I saw your blog post! I would like to give my wife a surprise dinner anniversary gift. And I would like to take charge in all the preparation. I will surely use this recipe!
- Jack L., Birmingham photographers

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