This cornbread dressing will be the MVP of your Thanksgiving feast

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Food unites. And no holiday displays that sense of togetherness better than Thanksgiving. There’s something about spending hours in the kitchen with family and friends — all for one common goal — that makes the food taste 10 times better. But, no dish symbolizes the value of Thanksgiving better than a fusion cornbread dressing recipe.

a tray of food on a table: Recipe of the Day: Cornbread Dressing

© Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune; Shannon Kinsella/food styling
Recipe of the Day: Cornbread Dressing

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The recipe pulls inspiration from both Southern and African cooking. Whether you know it as stuffing or dressing, the Thanksgiving side dish encompassess the heart of the holiday and its ability to unify people through food.

If your Thanksgiving is scaled down this year, this is the perfect recipe to make because it combines two popular turkey day side dishes: stuffing and cornbread.

To make the dish, prepare the cornbread and stuffing separately. Then crumble the cornbread into a large mixing bowl and stir in the stuffing mix, reserved vegetables, poultry seasoning, sage, salt and white pepper. Mix in the mushroom soup, chicken drippings and broth in half cup increments until you reach the desired moistness.

Once prepared, add the mixture to a baking pan and cook at 350 degrees for about 30 to 45 minutes. Serve the cornbread dressing alongside more delicious and regional Thanksging recipes that you should give a try.

Cornbread Dressing

For the cornbread:

1 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon each: baking soda, salt

1 1/2 cup buttermilk

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, cooled

2 eggs

For the dressing:

1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter

2 cups each, finely chopped: onion, celery

1 1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper

1 bag (12 to 14 ounces) sage or sage and onion stuffing mix (usually Pepperidge Farms or Brownberry)

3 tablespoons poultry seasoning

2 teaspoons dried sage

1 teaspoon each: salt, white pepper

2 cans (10 3/4 ounces each) reduced-sodium cream of mushroom soup

4 cups chicken or turkey broth, plus drippings from the roasted chicken or turkey

Chicken giblet stock, optional

For the cornbread:

Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl; set aside.

Combine buttermilk, butter and eggs in a separate mixing bowl.

Stir wet ingredients into flour mixture; blend well.

Pour batter into a lightly oiled 10-inch oven-safe skillet (we usually bake in a cast-iron skillet) or baking pan.

Bake until golden, 25-30 minutes.

Let cool.

For the dressing:

Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.

Cook onion, celery and bell pepper until soft and onion is golden, 5 minutes.

Remove from heat; set aside.

Crumble cornbread into a large mixing bowl.

Stir in stuffing mix, reserved vegetables, poultry seasoning, sage, salt and white pepper; toss to combine.

Stir in mushroom soup; toss to moisten.

Add chicken drippings and broth in ½-cup increments to achieve desired moistness.

Add some of the giblet stock, if needed.

Transfer mixture to a 13-by-9-inch baking pan; cover with foil.

Cook at 350 degrees until dressing browns around the edges, 30-45 minutes.

Remove foil from top and continue baking until dressing is evenly browned on top and set to desired consistency.

This recipe by Sadé Carpenter was originally published in the Chicago Tribune.

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