Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Granny L.'s Cornbread Dressing

This is my favorite dressing-- the main attraction (along with the meat) of many holiday meals eaten at my maternal grandmother's table.  Thanksgiving-- Christmas-- any good old-fashioned feast is improved by its inclusion.  It goes well with turkey, ham, roast, or chicken.  I've never tried it with fish, but I imagine it would be tasty with that, too!

This recipe requires two bakings-- one for the cornbread and one for the finished dressing-- and makes one 9x13 baking pan of delicious dressing.  It can easily be doubled to serve a larger gathering.

Granny L.'s Cornbread Dressing

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Sauté  ½ to 1 cup each of chopped celery and onion in ¼ cup (½ stick) butter (or margarine).
Cook until the onion is clear.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix the following ingredients:
1½ cups self-rising corn meal
½ self-rising flour
½ to 1 tsp sugar (according to preference)
1 egg
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp sage
a dash of onion powder
a dash of garlic powder

To these, slowly add approximately 1 cup of milk, until the mixture's consistency is a little thicker than pancake batter-- somewhat runny.

Mix the sautéed celery and onion into the batter.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden.  (A well-seasoned 10 or 12-inch cast iron pan works.  I generally use a 9x9 CorningWare dish.)
Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Crumble the cooled cornbread into a large mixing bowl.
Add 1 package of saltine crackers, crumbled.

Find some "old" bread.  Biscuits, buns, sliced bread-- any decent leftover or (defrosted) frozen bread will do, even if it's slightly dry.

(There is no definite set amount required, here.  It's different each time we make this dish.  Eyeball it.  You can always add more and put any overflow into a separate baking dish-- but of course at some point you'll diminish the ratio of flavored cornbread to plain bread significantly enough that the finished dressing won't taste as much.  Go with your instinct.)

Shred the bread into small pieces before adding to the bowl.

Boil a couple of eggs.  (We use the microwave for speed and ease.)  Chop them and add to the bowl.

Take chicken broth (homemade, from a can/carton, or from bouillon cubes dissolved in water and heated in the microwave) and pour it slowly into the bread mixture.  Add it a cup at a time (and stir) until the consistency is soupy-- wetter than oatmeal.

Season with pepper and taste.  (The mix should be perfectly safe to eat-- no raw ingredients.)  You may wish to add more seasonings (poultry seasoning, sage, etc.) at this point.  Usually it's salty enough, but if it needs it, go ahead and add another dash of salt.  I like flavorful dressing, so I always add more of the poultry seasoning and sage, if nothing else.

Spray a 9x13 pan with PAM (or other cooking spray).

Pour mixture into pan so that it's more or less evenly spread.
Bake about 45 minutes or until brown and crispy-- but not dried out.

Serve and enjoy!