3/21/11

Tuesday's Tip: Easy Cornbread Dressing Recipe and Tips

Weeknight Cornbread Dressing

Southerners love cornbread dressing. Unfortunately, it is becoming more and more of a "holidays only" dish. This wasn’t true in the not-so-distant past. Large pans of this moist, dense dish could be found on Southern tables year round. My mom could have a steaming pan of dressing on the table before you could say scat! In the past, there was more of a tendency not to let any food go to waste. Because all Southern kitchens had leftover cornbread and biscuits, making dressing was the solution for making use of these leftovers. When I was growing up, there were very few days we didn’t make a pone of cornbread. This tradition has also faded from many of our kitchens. In too many homes, cornbread is no longer "our daily bread". Thus, there is a lack of leftover cornbread that needs using.

Leftover cornbread and biscuits freeze really well. I keep a large zippered bag for each in my freezer and add leftovers, as we have them. Biscuits or cornbread should be at room temp before added to the bags in the freezer. Just set frozen cornbread and biscuits on the counter to thaw.

A combination of corn and wheat based breads makes the best dressing. Biscuits is one choice for wheat bread. Slices of white bread, which we call “loaf bread” down here, can be used too. Again, freeze that aging sandwich bread in zippered bags to be used for dressing. A can of cream soup can also be the source of wheat.

The texture of dressing is a very personal preference. Experiment until you find the texture your family likes best. Dressing texture is determined largely by these four things:

-       - The water content of the breads used (I prefer using dryer, day old bread.)
-       - How finely the bread is crumbled
-       - The proportion of corn-based bread to wheat-based bread
-       -The amount of broth and eggs used

Good, from-scratch cornbread dressing is still one of those dishes I am trying to master!

Here is a tasty, simple recipe for making a quick pan of semi-homemade dressing:

Weeknight Cornbread Dressing with Turkey Gravy, 
Ocean Spray Whole Cranberry Sauce and Allen's Italian Green Beans.

Weeknight Cornbread Dressing

Bake the cornbread the night before, while you’re tidying your kitchen. It will not only provide a jump start on making this dish, but the day old cornbread will provide a better texture for the dressing too!
This is a wonderful side dish for thick slices of roasted turkey or rotisserie chicken from the deli.
Adding a couple of cups of cooked, chopped chicken to this recipe creates a delicious entrée!
Prepare a couple of packets of turkey gravy to spoon over dressing, if you like. I substitute broth for the water called for on the gravy packet. Of course, you could use jarred gravy.
Another quick choice for gravy is to thin a can of cream of chicken or cream of celery soup to desired consistency with chicken broth. Add a teaspoon or so of poultry seasoning. Heat and serve over dressing.
For a complete meal, pop open a can of Ocean Spray Whole Cranberry Sauce and a heat can of Le Sueur Sweet Peas with a pat of butter. Or, saute a piece of chopped bacon just until it starts to release its fat. Add a can Allen's Italian Green Beans, a splash of vinegar and a teaspoonful of sugar. Simmer while making the dressing and until liquid has evaporated.

2 (6-ounce) packets corn bread mix
2 eggs, beaten
3 cans (or about 6 cups) chicken broth
1 can cream of celery or chicken soup
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
½ teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons  dried sage
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the dry corn bread mix according to package directions; cool and crumble.
(This is about 8 cups of loosely packed cornbread. Leftover cornbread works great for this!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray*.
In a large bowl, combine crumbled corn bread, eggs, broth, soup and seasonings; mix well.
Spoon mixture into prepared dish and bake for 30 minutes.

*Mixture can be divided into two 8x8-inch pans. Bake one. Cover the other well with plastic wrap, pushing the wrap down onto mixture to “seal” out the air. Cover the whole dish with foil, label and pop into the freeze. Keeps well frozen for about 3 month.

1 comment:

  1. While everyone can use frugal cooking tips, no one needs to cut back on food costs more than a mom. When you have kids to feed, it becomes even more important that you provide them with cheap, nutritious food. Gone are the days when ramen noodles could sustain you for months . . . now you need healthy food on a tight budget!

    Healthy cooking tips

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for sharing! I love comments!