Here’s my favorite Thanksgiving recipe, my grannie’s cornbread dressing.
First of all, if you’re not from the south you may not know that “dressing” is very different than “stuffing”. This is a side dish, separate from the bird, that comes out sort of the consistency of lumpy mashed potatoes, rather than crumbly bread cubes.
Also depending on where you are in the south (coastal, inland, up in the mountains) you may be adding sausage or seafood. While this is not the end all be all dressing recipe, this is what I ate growing up and the recipe I love to make today. If you’re looking for a vegetarian side dish you could easily make this using vegetable stock in lieu of turkey drippings or chicken stock, and leave out the milk. Please don’t try to leave out the butter. This is Thanksgiving, the high holiday of fat, baby!
My Mom’s mom Mattie was born in South Georgia and raised in Florida. She used curry powder (not sage) and moistened the dish with drippings from the turkey. My Dad’s Mom Mary Del grew up in Louisiana and she would put oysters in her dressing. As a kid I thought oysters were gross, but now as an adult I love them especially in a dish like this where they mostly give a salty briny flavor (and you really don’t notice the slimy oyster texture as they get cooked into the dish).
Below is Mattie’s recipe with an option to add oysters Ala Mary Del if that’s going to make you and your crowd happy.
Cornbread Dressing Recipe
- 1 8.5 oz box jiffy cornbread mix
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup of milk
- 8 tablespoons butter (reserve one tbsp. to grease the pan)
- 4-5 ribs of celery, chopped
- 1 small green pepper, chopped
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 5 slices white bread, dried in warm oven, and crumbled
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2-3 cups chicken stock (or pan drippings from the turkey)
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- Optional: 1 pint fresh oysters, drained
- Make cornbread according to package directions. Cool and crumble (best to do this a day or two ahead.).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the celery, green pepper, and onion until soft (5-10 minutes).
- In a large bowl, place the celery, pepper, and onion. Add the cornbread, white bread, eggs, chicken stock, milk, salt, pepper, and curry powder and mix well (add the oysters now if you are using them).
- Pour into prepared dish and bake at 350 for 30 – 45 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. (to test for doneness, carefully and gently jiggle the pan, and if the center of the dressing moves cook it a little longer, til it’s set).