Sandra's Southern Rosemary Dressing
Cornbread dressing is a family tradition in our home. When I was given this recipe by my grandmother forty years ago she used two large onions and more celery than I include in my recipe. My mother adds green onions to her dressing and only uses white bread. She also adds thyme to the seasonings. From my mother's mother I learned to add boiled eggs in addition to raw eggs to the mixture and decorate the top with boiled egg slices.
To this I add three or four boiled eggs to make it richer. I do not even want to think about how many calories per serving this recipe has, but it usually only served only once a year so we should be able to survive. This recipe could be slimmed down if used more often by decreasing the butter to 1/4 cup. Reduce the turkey drippings to 1/4 cup just to add taste for a lighter version of this recipe. Below you will find the basic cornbread dressing recipe.
Ingredients and Instructions
1 9x13-inch pan of cornbread, crumbled
10 slices white or whole wheat bread
poultry seasoning (see below)
rubbed sage (see below)
rosemary (see below)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large stalks celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped (2-1/2 to 3 cups)
3/4 cup butter (1-1/2 sticks)
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup turkey pan drippings (from cooked turkey)
3 large eggs, slightly beaten plus 3 boiled eggs
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Crumble the cornbread and white bread into a very large baking dish or pan (This is the pan you will cook your dressing in, and you need room to stir it while it's cooking). If you have a large bowl you can mix in the bowl and pour into the baking pan. Use the method that works best for you.
In a large skillet, sauté the celery, onion and green pepper in butter over medium heat until onion is transparent. Combine the sautéed vegetables with the bread crumbs and mix well.
Note: The dressing up to this point can be prepared an hour or so in advance.
When you are ready to bake the dressing, add the beaten eggs, chicken stock and turkey pan drippings, and stir. (You may need a little more chicken stock. It is better if it's too moist than too dry; the uncooked dressing should be a little on the slushy side but if you see liquid that has not blended with the mixture it is too moist. Add more bread slices to get consistency.) Add 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning, 1 teaspoon ground rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage, black pepper, and mix thoroughly. I like my dressing well seasoned so I do not measure the seasonings exact and I tend to be heavy handed with the seasonings.
After baking for 15 minutes or so, you may stir dressing down from the sides of the pan so that it cooks uniformly (the old timers used to say, "rake through it"). Do a taste test to check your seasoning. If you don't taste enough sage or rosemary for your liking, add 1/4 teaspoon or so with a little chicken stock, stir it in, and taste again. Careful, a little sage goes a long way. I like a lot of rosemary.
Total cooking time should be about 30 minutes if the oven is hot when you put in the dressing.
A Word About Consistency
When you make any kind of dressing seasoning and consistency are crucial to the success. Tastes vary widely, and that is why it is important to adjust the poultry seasoning, rosemary, and sage to suit your own taste or the taste of your family. Start with the amounts given. I love the taste of rosemary so I always add more rosemary than sage although I add equal amounts of poultry seasoning to the rosemary.
You can always add more stock to moisten it (I like mine nice and moist, but I've seen dressing that had to be sliced like a loaf of bread; too dry for my liking. You will probably want to make it the way your mother or grandmother made it.
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Personal Side Note
A few years ago I ran out of ground rosemary and discovered it could not be found in the grocery stores. I had all my friends scouring the stores all over Houston but no ground rosemary could be found. I knew I was in trouble but made the dressing without the rosemary. Sure enough, after her first bite my daughter started asking, "What's wrong with the dressing?". I did not want to talk about the rosemary as it was sort of a secret ingredient, but she would not let it go. Eventually, I gave in and fessed up. It was really funny because her fiance who was with her couldn't find anything wrong with the dressing and thought something was wrong with her!
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