I’m stepping out here and ready to make a bold statement. I think I might have figured out how to make Granny’s Old Fashioned Cornbread Dressing even better. She always added leftover biscuits, bread, or saltine crackers. Well, sir, I made a batch of Sage and Onion Biscuits to throw in along with Southern Buttermilk Cornbread , which Granny called eggbread. Also, I used fresh sage, lots of it, instead of the poultry seasoning she always used. The results are spectacular.
An ongoing rivalry exists between stuffing lovers and dressing lovers. Stuffing is most often associated with being stuffed in the cavity of the Thanksgiving turkey before cooking. Dressing is baked in a pan and never sees the inside of the bird and is served as a side dish. Over the years, the name stuffing has taken on a different meaning and is used interchangeably with dressing. We need to set the record straight: stuffing is stuffed and dressing is….well….it isn’t anything. It’s baked all by itself. Southerners generally prefer dressing, typically cornbread dressing.
Dressing was created as a way to use up leftover cornbread, biscuits and bread. You can store leftover pieces of bread and biscuits in the freezer to use in dressing. If you’re making cornbread dressing, the addition of an item made from wheat flour does give the dressing a nice texture and helps it bind together. Crushed buttery crackers or saltines are a handy substitute for biscuits or bread.
A tip for getting as much flavor in your dressing as possible is to use stale cornbread and bread. I made cornbread and biscuits a day or two ahead. Stale bread will soak up more of the stock and bring loads of flavor into the dressing. Of course, you need to have a good quality stock. Homemade chicken or turkey stock is easy to make and keeps well in the freezer. If you’d rather purchase from the grocery store, chose stock over broth. Stock is made with the bones, skin, and fat and has more flavor than broth which is made solely from the meat. And that trend now for bone broth is there just to confuse us all. Bone broth is stock.
I’ve been cooking for many years and have gone through many cooking phases including everything from hating to cook to preparing large gourmet spreads. During my gourmet cooking phase, I experimented with dressing up the dressing. I was snobbish and thought cornbread dressing was just too plain and simple. As it turns out, being plain and simple is what makes it taste so good. I’m over being snobbish about my food. I’ve come full circle back to the down home honest cooking that has fed my family for generations. I’m thankful to be back home and I won’t be straying again.
Old Fashioned Cornbread Dressing
preheat oven to 350 degrees
yield: approximately 20 servings
An iconic Southern dish. Lots of onions, celery, and fresh sage combine with buttermilk cornbread, sage onion biscuits, and good quality stock. A must have for Thanksgiving. To save time, mix up the dressing and freeze uncooked. Thaw in the refrigerator and proceed with baking instructions.
1 batch Southern Buttermilk Cornbread or use your favorite recipe
1 batch Sage Onion Biscuits
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 medium sweet onions, diced
1 whole stalk (head) of celery, diced
1/2 cup fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
3 – 4 quarts homemade chicken/turkey stock or good quality commercially prepared
black pepper to taste
salt to taste
2 eggs, beaten
Make a batch of Southern Buttermilk Cornbread and Sage Onion Biscuits a day or two ahead and let them get stale.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and celery. Cook until the volume has reduced to about half and the vegetables have softened but not browned. Stir occasionally.
For last two minutes of cook time, add chopped sage and stir.
Crumble cornbread and biscuits into a large (very large) bowl. Add cooked onions, celery , and sage. Stir with a large wooden spoon.
Add stock and stir. Add more stock and stir. Keep adding stock and stirring until the cornbread mixture reaches a soupy consistency.
Add salt and black pepper. Start with a teaspoon of each. Now, you must taste. Add more salt, black pepper, or sage as needed.
Stir in beaten eggs.
Place in a greased cooking vessel. Some folks use a roasting pan. Some use casserole pans. The choice is yours.
Cook until the top is browned.
Serve with Giblet Gravy.
You might also enjoy:
Old Fashioned Cornbread Dressing
- I keep odds and ends piece of bread in the freezer for making croutons for dressing. After thawing out the bread I cut it into cubes, drizzle over some oil and seasoning, toss well and bake at 350 until it browns. I used up all the bread I had saved. For the life of me, I can't remember how I used it, but I hope the dish turned out well. As a substitute for homemade croutons, I like Pepperidge Farm Cubed Stuffing in either Herb or Sage and Onion flavors. Instead of croutons, you can use biscuits or saltine crackers.
- 1 batch Egg Bread Southern Buttermilk Cornbread or use your favorite recipe
- 6 cups croutons I used Pepperidge Farm Cubed Stuffing Sage and Onion flavor, or use Sage Onion Biscuit Croutons
- 3 medium sweet onions diced
- 2 cups celery diced
- olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage finely minced
- 2 quarts homemade chicken/turkey stock or good quality commercially prepared
- 1 to 2 teaspoons black pepper
- salt to taste
- Tear cornbread into pieces.
- Put the cornbread and croutons into large bowl. You'll need to find a bowl bigger than your head. I have a 16 inch graniteware bowl that is perfect for making dressing.
- Cook onions and celery in olive oil until tender. Add to bowl along with sage.
- Add stock and stir well. Add one teaspoon of black pepper, stir and adjust as needed. I rarely need to add additional salt. Let dressing sit for 30 minutes to absorb all the liquid. Stir and pour into greased baking pans. I used 2 (8 x 8) aluminum pans instead of 1 (9 x 13) pan because I want to freeze the dressing for use at a later date. One 8 x 8 pan fits nicely inside a gallon freezer bag for storage. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until the top has browned.
- Serve with Giblet Gravy.