Friday, November 21, 2008

Southern-style Dressing

I think that holiday food traditions really highlight the differences between regional cooking styles. I never believed anyone actually cooked the "stuffing" inside the turkey until I saw pictures of it actually done. That just seems gross to me! Down here we call it "dressing," and we make it in big lasagna-sized pans to ensure there's enough to go around. Being a very picky eater as a child, I never even tried dressing until I was in college. I worked at Dino's, which had T&D on the meat-and-three every Sunday, and it was good! The dressing was very much like what my mom makes. I'm hoping to volunteer to make the dressing this year in Georgia as we gather with my husband's family for the big feast. There's always so much good food that dressing is understandably not a priority, and we often just go with something like Stove Top. That's okay, but I'd rather have real dressing, so I'm going to make it!

These are my mom's instructions, which are not super exact, but I've watched her make the dressing many times so I know how it should look and feel and I'll try to describe that here.

Ingredients/shopping list:

***Corn Meal Mix (sold next to the regular corn meal but already has some flour and leavening built in)
buttermilk (you can add 1 tsp vinegar to a cup of milk, but it won't be as good)
5 biscuits, rolls, or slices of white bread, or two hamburger buns (Seriously.)
1 cup each chopped celery and onion
1 stick of butter
1 can cream of chicken soup (oh hush, you won't even know its there)
chicken broth as needed (get the box that you can keep in the fridge and use as needed)
ground sage
poultry seasoning (My mom says either or but I say why not both? Unless poultry seasoning already has, check label.)

***Note: Do NOT use a boxed "corn muffin" mix like Jiffy. It will be way too sweet and won't make enough. I mean it!

Okay, Step one, cut a whole in the box...wait, that's not right. Step one, make the cornbread according to the directions on the bag, using the buttermilk and eggs from the list. Use the same pan you will use for the dressing--a large rectangular or oblong baking dish, like 9x13. You can do this in advance or just while you do the other prep work.

Meanwhile, chop your onions and celery and sautee it all in the stick of butter

Crumble the cornbread all up in the pan. Add whatever form of white bread you are using--either five biscuits, five slices of bread, or two hamburger buns, also crumbled up (just tear it with your hands). Add the cooked celery and onions with all the melted butter, the cream of chicken soup, and enough chicken broth, a little at a time, to give it all a soupy, pudding-like consistency. Salt and pepper generously and add the sage/poultry seasoning (a generous tsp, maybe), mix it all up to one big homogenous mass, and spread in the pan (it should have surface tension and be thicker than cake batter). Bake uncovered until golden-brown on top, about 30-45 minutes (I'm going to say 375 degrees). Enjoy!


Amanda said...

Sounds very similar to mine, but we usually just do the corn bread (no white bread/biscuits/etc). The past few years, though, I've bought the Pepperidge Farms bread crumbs -- one regular and one corn bread. Easier and very yummy! Oh, I put a couple of boiled eggs in mine and a couple of raw eggs into the mix, too.

JodieMo said...

Great entry! In the South we all know that T-Day is all about the dressing anyway. Sounds real close to mine, except 86 the cream of chicken ( very strange ingredient). Although I must say I use about twice as much broth and let that fragrant homogeneous mass sit overnight to let the flavors get their mojo workin'.

Blaine Morgan said...

Dressing not a priority?! Have you lost your marbles? Everyone eats Turkey, but it's the family recipe for dressing that makes it personal and different and special. My wife makes great dressing, but it's not my grandmother's recipe. For that, I must wait 'til X-mas, and I will have at least 3 helpings, and probably take leftovers with me. AND, IT'S THE PERFECT RECEPTACLE FOR SWEET, SWEET GRAVY!

Sassy Molassy said...

You really can't tell the Cream of Chicken is in there. I think it serves kind of the same purpose as raw egg in others' recipes--just to kind of thicken and bind everything.