Mama’s Cornbread Dressing

Mama’s Cornbread Dressing is a classic Southern dish that’s a staple at many holiday dinners, especially Thanksgiving. It’s a savory mixture of crumbled cornbread, vegetables, herbs, and often bits of turkey or chicken, baked until golden and delicious. The exact recipe can vary from family to family, but here’s a traditional version you can follow or adapt according to your own family’s tradition.

Ingredients:

For the Cornbread:

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar (optional, some prefer their cornbread less sweet for dressing)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
  • 2 large eggs

For the Dressing:

  • 1 batch of cornbread (from above), crumbled
  • 1 loaf of day-old white bread, torn into small pieces (optional)
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
  • 2-3 cups chicken or turkey broth, plus more if needed
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage or poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions or chives (optional)

Instructions:

1. Make the Cornbread:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, and eggs.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until blended.
  5. Pour into a greased 8-inch square pan.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Let cool, then crumble into large pieces for the dressing.

2. Prepare the Vegetables:

  1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, celery, and garlic (if using) and cook until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.

3. Assemble the Dressing:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. In a large bowl, combine the crumbled cornbread and torn white bread (if using).
  3. Stir in the cooked vegetables.
  4. Add the beaten eggs, salt, pepper, sage or poultry seasoning, thyme, parsley, and green onions (if using). Mix well.
  5. Gradually add the chicken or turkey broth until the mixture is moist but not soggy. You may not need all the broth, or you may need a little more.
  6. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

4. Bake the Dressing:

  1. Transfer the mixture to a greased baking dish.
  2. Bake uncovered for 45-60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the dressing is cooked through.

5. Serve:

  1. Let the dressing sit for about 10 minutes after removing it from the oven.
  2. Serve warm as a side dish with your holiday meal.

Remember, the key to great dressing is the moisture level; it should be moist before it goes into the oven. It’s also essential to taste the mixture before baking (before you add the raw eggs) to ensure the seasoning is just right. Some families also like to add cooked sausage, oysters, or chopped boiled eggs to their dressing for extra flavor and texture.

Enjoy your homemade Mama’s Cornbread Dressing!

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