Sunday, November 21, 2010

Country Cornbread Dressing

This recipe blows packaged dressing (including my old favorite, Pepperidge Farm) out of the water.

It takes more time, yes.

I hope you'll agree that it's worth it. 

(Maybe you won't.  And that's OK.  We can still be friends.)

You can bake this dressing days before, refrigerate it, and reheat it (while adding more chicken broth, if necessary, to keep it moist) on Thanksgiving Day.

Raise your hand if less craziness in the kitchen on Thursday sounds good to you.

I really love having all my ingredients chopped, measured and ready to go when I'm cooking.

Like I did here.

I rarely do this, by the way.

But it is fun.

It makes me feel like I'm on the Food Network.

Only I'm here.

In my tiny kitchen.

Wearing pajama pants.

Surrounded by teetering towers of dirty dishes.

You'll need about 6 cups of cubed bread.

I used half a loaf of wheat French bread.

 Slice it.

 Dice it.

Put it on a baking sheet.

And "toast" it in a 200 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and saute the vegetables,
bacon, and seasonings in a large skillet for about 10-15 minutes.

Put the toasted bread cubes in a bowl.

Add the crumbled cornbread to the bowl.

Mix together.

There is something deeply therapeutic about doing this. 

Add the vegetable mixture to the bread mixture.

Now, beat 3 eggs and add to the bread/veggie mixture.

Stir it well.

Get some chicken stock.

Can I show you one of my secret weapons?

If you don't have any homemade chicken stock on hand, this is what you need.

So much better than a bouillon cube.

And easier, too.

Now, add enough of the chicken stock (or the cheater stuff) to the bread/veggie/egg mixture.

Turn it out into a well-greased baking dish.

Bake for 1 hour.

Check it while it's in the oven!  Drizzle additional stock over it to keep it moist. 

Enjoy the fruit of your labor. 

Here's the printable recipe.

Country Cornbread Dressing
Serves 8-10

1/2 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
2 large celery stalks, chopped
5 smoked bacon slices, diced
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano (regular oregano works fine)
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 pound smoked ham, coarsely ground
4 cups crumbled cornbread (about one prepared box of Jiffy cornbread)
6 cups French bread cubes
3 eggs, lightly beaten
About 1 1/4 cups chicken or turkey stock, or more as needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt the butter in a heavy 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, bacon, seasonings, and ham.  Saute, stirring often, until vegetables are wilted and bacon is cooked but not browned, about 10-15 minutes.  Place cornbread and French bread in a large bowl.  Pour vegetable mixture over bread; toss to combine.  Stir in beaten eggs.  Add enough stock or broth to make a moist dressing, stirring to break up cornbread and French bread.  Turn the dressing out into a large baking dish or casserole and bake in preheated oven for 1 hour.  Drizzle additional stock (or turkey drippings) as needed to keep the dressing moist.  Serve hot.

*Recipe from Texas on the Plate