Back when my mother was still alive and doing the honors every Thanksgiving, she always seemed to fret about whether or not the dressing had enough sage. She would call me in to taste and re-taste until it seemed just right. I often wondered back then why she didn’t have an exact recipe to follow.
In later years, I asked BigSis if she had Mother’s recipe, and she shared it with me the way she adapted it over the many years she’s been doing the honors at her home. Maybe memory fails me now, but I think she has probably tweaked the recipe to suit her family’s taste buds.
Because The Captain did not grow up eating cornbread dressing on any occasion, I never really had to learn to perfect a recipe for said holiday menu item. Don’t get me wrong, I did bake some version of this over the years from time to time when we did not have a combined family Thanksgiving meal; but I honestly can’t tell you if I had an exact recipe, either.
However, once I ate Geraldine’s dressing, I experienced cornbread dressing bliss and needed never search for just the right amount of sage again.
A couple of days before the meal, I bought a whole chicken and boiled it on the stove, or should I say simmered or stewed. You can look up other ways to make your own tasty chicken stock, but I just simmered it for a couple of hours with salt in the water (add bay leaf if you have it), until the chicken was about ready to fall off the bones. There is great nutritive value in making your own stock with the bones.
You can buy ready-made broth in the can if you prefer, but I can tell you that making your own stock just makes this dressing even tastier and well worth the small effort.
This is optional, but if you would like to chop some of the chicken and put into the dressing, feel free. I chopped the cooked chicken and saved for chicken salad.
The day before the meal, I started with cornbread baked according to the recipe on the Quaker or Aunt Jemima yellow corn meal box. You can use an 8 x 8 pan, baking dish, or black iron skillet. It’s your choice, but I use a skillet. At the risk of starting a big debate about animal fat and cholesterol, I will go ahead and tell you the one exception I made was to substitute bacon grease for vegetable oil in the cornbread recipe. Why? Because some of us are no longer eating vegetable oils (other than those that are cold pressed) and margarine or spreads. If you want to know more about why we are doing that, please read Deep Nutrition and Primal Body.
Which leads me to the one exception I made in Geraldine’s recipe. Her recipe calls to sauté the veggies in 2 sticks of margarine. Nope. Not gonna do it. I use real, salted, creamery butter.
Moving right along…here is what you will need:
Geraldine Fletcher's Old-fashioned, Southern-style, Cornbread Dressing to be precise.
Because The Captain did not grow up eating cornbread dressing on any occasion, I never really had to learn to perfect a recipe for said holiday menu item. Don't get me wrong, I did bake some version of this over the years from time to time when we did not have a combined family Thanksgiving meal; but I honestly can't tell you if I had an exact recipe, either.
However, once I ate Geraldine's dressing, I experienced cornbread dressing bliss and needed never search for just the right amount of sage again.
- 2Sticks of Butter
- 2Medium Onions Chopped
- 6-8Stalks Celery Chopped
- 2Bell Peppers Chopped
- 1/4CupFresh Parsley Chopped
- 1Bunch Green Onions Chopped-separated
- 2Pans of CornbreadCrumbled
- 1.5QuartsChicken Stockapproximately 1qt. plus 2 cans
- 1Tblsp Tony Chachere's Seasoning
- 1Tblsp Season All
- 1/2tTblsp Poultry Seasoningoptional - my family doesn' care for sage flavor
- 1TspSaltoptional-to taste
- Melt butter in sauté pan and add the finely chopped onions, celery, bell pepper, let them simmer on low, stirring occasionally while you continue.
- Chop parsley and green onions and set aside - keep the dark green tops of the green onion separate from the white parts.
- Assemble and bake 2 pans of cornbread, cool, and crumble into a large bowl. (Put oven on 400 after removing cornbread if you plan to bake the dressing right away. See Notes)
- Add parsley and bulbous white part of the green onion to the sauté pan
- Add 2 quarts of stock to the cornbread in the bowl. (If you made stock ahead of time, you must re-heat it before adding)
- Add all the seasoning (and taste for needed salt)
- Add the vegetables to the cornbread mixture
- Add green onion tops to the cornbread mixture
- Mix eggs well and fold into cornbread mixture
- Bake in a 400 degree oven to “set” which takes about 30 minutes. Then lower the oven to 350 and continue baking for another 30 minutes or so. Dressing is done when golden-colored and knife comes out clean. So, check it often!
After everything is mixed together, you can cover and let this rest in the refrigerator overnight, which really enhances all the flavors, you can freeze it for future use, or you can bake right away. You will need about three or four baking dishes, as this makes a LOT of dressing. I used shallow glass baking dishes. Corning Ware works okay, but the edges are more prone to over-browning. Feel free to cut the recipe in half for smaller families.
Have a blessed meal with your family and friends, and I hope everyone loves this dressing!