Get a Jump Start on Cornbread Dressing

I love to talk about cornbread dressing every holiday season because, in the South, it is as beloved as the turkey. My sister always declared it to be her favorite dish on the holiday table! And I tend to agree with her.

Southern cornbread dressing – sometimes called stuffing by folks who didn’t grow up in the South – is not traditionally referred to as stuffing because it is not stuffed in the bird. We like to have a lot more dressing than would ever fit in a turkey, so we just bake it in a big pan. This method also results in a glorious side dish that is moist on the inside and wonderfully crisp on the outside.

If cornbread dressing will be on your holiday table, here’s a quick tip to make it a little easier.

You can make dressing in advance and freeze. Move the frozen dressing from the freezer to refrigerator at least 24 hours in advance and allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking. I find the freezing/thawing process a little tricky, so it may be just as easy to prepare all the ingredients – bake and freeze the cornbread and sautéed vegetables. Then the night before or the morning of, stir up the dressing and refrigerate until about 30 minutes before baking.

This Martha White® Cornbread Dressing is hard to beat, but if you would like to put a twist on your dressing this year, visit www.marthawhite.com for other delicious versions of this Southern favorite.

Dressing or Stuffing?

When I was young, I remember my sister saying that cornbread dressing was her favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner. Back then, I thought it was an unusual dish to pick as a favorite, but now I have a much greater appreciation for this beloved side dish and tend to agree that it is one of the best parts of the meal. Like many traditional recipes, cornbread dressing is a tribute to resourceful Southern cooks who created wonderful recipes with only the ingredients they had on hand. We love cornbread down here, so I guess it’s not surprising that we would add it to our dressing.

What does your family call this traditional dish – dressing or stuffing? They are basically the same thing, but in the South we usually bake it in a separate dish rather than stuffing the bread mixture in the bird – and call it dressing. I do not know exactly why we bake it in a pan, but my theory is that the bird just doesn’t hold enough to go around and we love that crisp buttery crust.

Dressing is a pretty simple dish. It is basically a seasoned mixture of crumbled cornbread and biscuits or white bread moistened with broth and baked. As easy as that seems, there are countless variations for such a simple dish.

Do you use white bread or biscuits with the cornbread? What about texture, seasonings and extra ingredients? Are onions, celery and sage your seasonings of choice? Do you ever add meat, fruit or nuts? If you want to add a special twist to your Thanksgiving dressing, try this recipe that I love.

Cornbread Sausage Dressing with Apples and Pecans

Ingredients

Southern Cornbread
Martha White “Hot Rize” Biscuits
Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
1 pound bulk pork sausage
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
2 cups chopped unpeeled Granny Smith apples
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons dried sage leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups chicken broth

Preparation Directions

1. PREPARED cornbread and biscuits as directed. Cool 15 minutes. Crumble enough cornbread to make 5 cups; crumble enough biscuits to make 5 cups. Set aside.
2. HEAT oven to 375°F. Spray a 13 x 9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish or pan with no-stick cooking spray. Cook sausage, onions and celery in large skillet over medium-high heat until sausage is browned and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
3. COMBINE sausage and vegetable mixture with crumbled cornbread and biscuits in large bowl; add all remaining ingredients; mix well. Spoon into prepared baking dish.
4. BAKE 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown.