Nana's Cornbread Dressing
the stuff thanksgiving is made of
My grandmother is one of my most favorite people who ever lived. She was a great cook, but she never measured anything or followed a recipe in her life.
One time I asked her for a recipe for her Thanksgiving cornbread dressing because it is one of my all time favorite foods, and this is what she wrote me:
I don't have a recipe for the dressing I make! I can tell you what I do. I buy a whole fryer and get the meat department to cut it in half so it will cook quicker. Wash it, cook it till tender using these seasonings, black pepper, salt and low sodium chicken granules (generously). Also use celery flakes generously. Use plenty of water to get the broth for the dressing and gravy. I use a lot of onion and celery chopped and sauted in butter just till the color has changed. Bake the cornbread the day before. It makes better dressing that way. And thats all the bread I use. Crumble and pour broth over it being careful to use some and make sure you're not getting too much. I then season with black pepper, salt, poultry seasoning and sage. I mix then taste till I get it the way I want it. When that is accomplished I lightly beat three or four eggs, usually four for the amount I mix and add to the dressing. Melt some butter next and add. I make a lot so I usually use most of a stick. Hope I remembered everything!
That's it. I've been making cornbread dressing for years now based on this "recipe". The first couple times were terrifying! Did you notice the part where she says "be careful to use some and make sure you're not getting too much"? What in the sam hill is a boy supposed to do with instructions like that besides agonize and stress over ruining Thanksgiving dinner?
Well, gentle reader, I'm here to provide an only slightly better version of this recipe.
Cook up a bunch of cornbread. Grab some of those mixes in the blue box that make an 8x8 pan. I cook three of them, one of them in an 8x8 and two of them in an 8x13 pan. I usually end up eating about half of the 8x8 and then adding the rest of it into the 8x13 so I have a bunch of cornbread. Mash it up roughly to maximize the surface area and then leave it out over night to get stale.
Saute a whole bunch of diced celery and diced yellow onion in some oil or butter with salt and pepper and garlic until they've all started to change color, but before they get all the way soft or actually translucent. They'll continue to cook later in the oven.
Add veggies to the cornbread until it's kind of half and half. Add about a cup of melted butter and about a cup of veggie stock until it's all good and damp. Make sure to get enough but be careful to not use to much 😉
Make 2 - 3 flax eggs and loosely incorporate them.
Bake it in the oven at about 400 degrees for 30 - 40 minutes until the sides start to brown a little.