Growing up, my Grannie Mattie’s cornbread dressing was my hands down favorite Thanksgiving dish! Actually, I like the trifecta of turkey, dressing, and the bright red cranberry sauce that slides right out of the can (hey, don’t judge!). The consistency of this dressing is closer to mashed potatoes that a crumbly stuffing. And no sage here, the secret ingredient is… curry powder!
I called my Grannie once to ask her for the recipe, and she started off with “oh honey, it’s so easy!” Then she proceeded to rattle off more of a list of suggestions than an actual recipe. I’ll paraphrase what she told me: you take some cornbread and some day old hot dog buns, then you cook down your celery, onion and green pepper (the holy trinity as it’s known), then you mix it all together with some milk and chicken stock, or better yet, pan drippings from your turkey, then you pour it into a pan and bake it. When I asked her how much milk she said “Oh, just enough to moisten it.” I found this very frustrating.
What I’ve learned from making this over and over is no skimping on the butter and stock (or whole milk). If you think I’m kidding about this, the next time you see me ask me how I feel about low fat dairy. BOOOO! It is not only unhealthy, but just does not taste good. It’s Thanksgiving people! Bring on the butter! I use Jiffy cornbread mix because it always comes out great and just fits into my small iron skillet.
Oh, and I’m talking about my Florida grannie Mattie; my Louisiana grannie Mary Del also made a version of this, but she put oysters in hers. When I was a little kid my reaction was “ew gross.” Now my reaction is “YUM!” The oysters cook down so you don’t really notice them (no slimy texture) and they give you a salty seafood flavor, so even if your family says they are not into oysters, they may actually like this. But please, no tricking people with stealth oysters.
*This recipe serves six, and can be doubled it if you are serving a crowd. Not sure if your people are into oysters? You can pour dressing into two smaller casserole dishes, then add the oysters to only one pan. If using a smaller pan, reduce cooking time to about 35 minutes total.
- 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
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 5 slices white bread, dried in warm oven, and crumbled
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2-3 cups chicken stock
- 3/4 cup whole milk
Optional: 1 pint fresh oysters, drained
- Make cornbread according to package directions. Cool and crumble (you can 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 saute the celery, green pepper, onion, salt, pepper and curry powder until the veggies are soft (5ish minutes).
- In a large bowl, place the veggie mixture. Add the cornbread, white bread, eggs, chicken stock and milk and mix well (add the oysters if you are using them). You want the dressing to be moist and pourable, but not so wet that there is liquid floating on top.
- 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 is set).
Anne McCranie is a Portland based personal trainer and licensed massage therapist. She offers this recipe to bring Thanksgiving happiness to your belly. Please see your medical professional for specific dietary advice.