Ahhh…here’s the star of the Thanksgiving table. It’s not the turkey, although that’s pretty nice too, especially if you use my turkey brine recipe. (Check out my post on How to Roast a Perfect Turkey!) It’s the traditional Southern cornbread dressing, covered in giblet gravy and a little cranberry sauce…that’s what we wait all year for. I’m not even sure why we don’t fix dressing more often, because it really is quite simple; however, it’s a dish that is mostly relegated to the holiday table.
There are many different variations of cornbread dressing—some use milk, some use eggs, some use cream soups—our family doesn’t add any of those. Our cornbread dressing is just a mixture of buttermilk cornbread, maybe some leftover biscuits, chicken stock, onions and celery and butter. Add some seasonings and that’s it. Simple, moist and the perfect accompaniment to roast turkey or chicken.
Start by making a pan of buttermilk cornbread. When the cornbread is cooked, crumble it onto a cookie sheet and let it dry overnight or for several hours. I always add about 3 leftover biscuits too, so crumble those onto another cookie sheet and let them dry as well.
Melt a stick of butter and a couple of tablespoons of bacon grease in a large skillet and saute 2 cups celery and 2 cups onion until tender.
In a large bowl, combine the cornbread and biscuit crumbs, the onions and celery and 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley. Add a pinch or two of rubbed sage or a teaspoon of fresh chopped sage, and a teaspoon of dried thyme. Stir in 1 to 2 quarts of turkey or chicken stock and then taste. Add salt and pepper to taste.
When you’re adding the stock, just add a couple of cups at a time and then stir. You want the dressing to be almost soupy, so that it will cook up nice and moist.
Butter a 9×13 inch dish and then spread the dressing into the dish. If you have too much, you may need to also use a smaller dish, say 8×8. Dot some butter on top of the dressing and cover with foil.
Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 20-30 minutes, until your cornbread dressing is nicely browned on top.
- 1 pan buttermilk cornbread
- 3 large homemade buttermilk biscuits
- 2 cups celery chopped
- 2 cups onion chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried sage or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons bacon grease
- 2 quarts (or more as needed) turkey stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Additional butter for top
Make cornbread and biscuits the day before. Crumble cornbread and biscuits on sheet pans and let dry overnight.
Preheat oven to 375. Grease 9x13 dish. Use another 8x8 dish if you have extra.
- Melt butter and bacon grease in large skillet and saute celery and onions until tender.
In large mixing bowl, combine cornbread and biscuit crumbs. Add celery and onions and all the seasonings and stir gently.
Add one quart of stock and stir until mixed well. Add additional stock until consistency is very moist but still thick. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour dressing into prepared dish. Dot butter on top of dressing and cover with foil.
- Bake for thirty minutes, then remove foil and bake another twenty to thirty minutes, until well browned.