Here is my personal recipe for cornbread dressing. The key to good dressing is good cornbread. My grandmother used the term making sure your cornbread batter is “sloppy” (meaning that it should be loose to the spoon when mixing up, not stiff). Homemade chicken stock would add a delicious richness to your dressing, but to save time, I like to use the broth off of my cooked turkey, or use a good quality chicken stock like Kitchen Basics. Adding fresh sage, thyme, and rosemary to your dressing really takes it up a notch and makes the dish come alive in flavor. This will make a full-size aluminum pan full of dressing (enough for 24 servings), but feel free to use a half-pan and freeze half the uncooked dressing mixture sealed tight in a foodsaver bag and frozen to cook for Christmas. It will be just as good. And don’t be afraid to use your clean hands to mix up your dressing.
5 cups of self-rising cornmeal
2-1/2 cups of buttermilk
1 stick of butter
1 cup of vegetable oil
6 slices of bread, crumbled
3 cans of condensed cream of chicken
2 cans of condensed cream of celery
32 oz of chicken stock
7 celery stalks, chopped fine
3 large onions, chopped fine
1 stick of butter
3 tablespoons of ground poultry seasoning
3 tablespoons of ground sage
1 tablespoon each of chopped fresh sage, fresh rosemary, and fresh thyme
4 hardboiled eggs, chopped (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a 13×9 pan, pour in the vegetable oil and stick of butter, and put in the oven to heat through until melted and bubbling. While you wait, mix up your cornbread by combining in a large bowl the cornmeal, eggs, and buttermilk. Once the pan of butter and oil in the oven is bubbling, pour half of the butter mixture into the cornbread and mix well. Once cornbread mix is incorporated, pour the batter into the pan, place in the oven, and bake on 400 degrees for about 25-30 minutes, or until nicely brown. Once done, take out of oven and set aside to cool.
In a saute pan on medium, melt 1 stick of butter and add onions and celery. Saute for about 7 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Set aside.
In a large bowl, crumble up the cornbread, breaking up the chunks until even in texture. Add the fresh crumbled bread crumbs and mix in thoroughly using your hands. Add in your poultry seasoning, sage, fresh herbs, crumbled boiled eggs (optional), onion and celery, condensed cream of chicken, and condensed cream of celery. Gradually add in chicken stock as you mix together, adjusting more or less based on consistency you like (it should be very moist, but not watery). Mix dressing mixture thoroughly together, tasting as you go, adding any extra spices to your specific taste. Stir in 1 tablepoon of baking powder (this will prevent dressing from being hard and clumpy).
Butter a large baking dish (or full-size aluminum pan) and spoon cornbread dressing mixture to make one even layer. At this point, I like to spoon a little melted butter with chicken stock over top of dressing. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for about 45 to 50 minutes or so, until dressing is nicely golden brown along sides and top. (May take longer, depending on your oven temperature and size of your pan, so adjust accordingly). Enjoy!