Cornbread stuffing, or dressing as it is called in the South, is wonderful made at home. If you have only eaten boxed dressing, you will be delighted with the simplicity and wonderful flavor and texture difference inherent in home-baked dressing.
Cornbread gives a very different texture than white bread alone and adds the sweetness of corn to the flavor. It can be a side dish for a roast chicken dinner or baked in a casserole dish and served in place of breads or potatoes, but is traditionally baked as a stuffing inside a whole turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.
Cornbread stuffing incorporates white bread crumbs and crumbled cornbread. The breads are highly seasoned with celery, onion, sage and chicken broth for the most fragrant and flavorful dish.
In the South, the turkey is stuffed with a portion of the dressing. This helps the turkey retain its natural juices and roast more tender and moist. The stuffing is spooned into the bird loosely to allow for expansion. The rest of the stuffing is refrigerated until about an hour and a half before the meal is to be served. It can then be spooned into a large casserole dish, dotted with butter and baked until the top is golden brown.
Chicken broth can be used for this recipe, and canned broth works fine. If you prefer, cover a whole chicken with water, along with the giblets from the turkey, in a stockpot. Add an onion and 2 stalks of celery, salt and a bay leaf. Boil covered over medium heat for 1 ½ hours to produce a flavorful stock for the stuffing. Save the chicken meat for another recipe. Strain the broth and allow it to cool before adding it to the stuffing. You will need about three quarts.
Cornbread Dressing Recipe
(Serves 12 people.)
Toss the ingredients together until all bread is dampened but not mushy. More or less broth may be added to combine the ingredients. Use several cups of the stuffing to fill the turkey. Place the rest in a casserole dish. Top with chopped green onions. Cover with foil and refrigerate.
When ready to bake, heat oven to 400º F. Place casserole dish in the hot oven and bake for one hour. Remove the foil and return to the oven for about 10 minutes longer to brown.
The remainder of the chicken broth can be used to make a gravy to serve with the turkey.
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