You're either Team Stuffing. Or, your Team Dressing. My family is Team Dressing. What's the difference you ask? The one glaring technical difference between the two is how they're cooked. According to most dictionaries, stuffing is defined as “a mixture used to stuff another food, traditionally poultry, before cooking.” Whereas dressing is cooked in a pan outside of the turkey cavity. Today, let's talk how to make my families Southern-Style Thanksgiving Dressing.
Corn Bread Ingredients
1/2 cup Canola Oil
2 cups Yellow Corn Meal
1-1/2 to 2 cups Buttermilk
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon Flour
1 Sweet Onion (minced fine by hand or in a food processor, but not mushy)
1 Bunch of Celery (minced fine by hand or in a food processor, but not mushy)
1-2 teaspoons of salt
1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
Lots of Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
Lots of Ground Sage
Making the Cornbread
The first step to making great, Southern-Style Thanksgiving Dressing is to make your Buttermilk Cornbread. I like to use the Aunt Jemima Yellow Corn Meal. Here's the steps to making the cornbread. The staple to all Southern Dressing.
Preheat oven to 350.
Mix together 1-1/2 cups of cornmeal, buttermilk (Start with 1-1/2 cups. You can add more if the batter is too thick), 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon flour, and one egg. Stir together with a whisk. It should be the consistency of cake batter. Once complete, set aside.
I start with a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Drizzle enough canola oil over the bottom of the pan to evenly coat (you really want the oil about 1/4 inch deep. Turn the heat on medium high and allow the oil to heat up enough to start to shimmer across the pan. Once you see this, take a bit of your cornmeal and sprinkle in the pan. If you see it start to sizzle, it's ready.
Cover the bottom of the pan with corn meal, enough to create a crust. As far as how much, just depends on how big your cast iron pan is. I would say at least 1/4 cup. Once it's evenly coated, allow the cornmeal start to brown. You can stir with a whisk to make sure it cooks evenly. When cornmeal is golden, add your cornbread batter.
Place the cast iron skillet with cornbread batter into a pre-heated 350 degree oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Start checking after 20 minutes. You are looking for a bread that bounces back when you touch it and no longer wiggly in the center.
Making the Dressing
After your cornbread has cooked and it's had time to cool slightly, it's time to start pulling together the Dressing.
Find a really big bowl. The largest one you have. Crumble the cornbread and all of that delicious cornbread crust into your large bowl.
Add the minced onion and celery to the cornbread crumbles and start to season. I put measurements in your ingredients list, but really this is a preference. Salt and pepper to taste and do the same thing with the sage. Don't skimp on the sage. Add a little, stir and taste. Keep going until you get the flavor where you want it. Once you get the flavor where you want it, proceed to Step 3.
Add chicken broth. I would start to pour in half of the box of broth. Stir. If it's still dry, add more broth. You are looking for a mushy consistency. Kind of like cooked oatmeal. When you get to the oatmeal stage, it's time to add in your eggs. For one pan of cornbread, 4 eggs is probably enough. If you are doing 2 pans of cornbread, 6 is most likely a good number. The eggs hold your dressing together. Mix them in well. Once well combined, it's time to put it in your greased casserole dish.
I like to use a 9x13 baking dish for this step. Spray well with cooking spray. Then, pour dressing mixture into the pan. Spread out evenly in the pan. Tap the bottom to release any air bubbles and head to the oven. Bake on 350 for 20-30 minutes. Or until dressing is set and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. Make sure the center is not wiggly.
Once cooked, pull from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your families.