If there is one thing I love about Thanksgiving it’s my mom’s cornbread dressing. And because we only get it once a year, the anticipation of that yummy goodness starts to build weeks before the big day. Everyone in my family makes their dressing the same way, so I assumed that’s how all Thanksgiving dressing tasted.
And then I married a Yankee…
I could just end there but let me tell you, it’s a whole ‘nother ball game in these parts of New England when it comes to dressing or stuffing (that’s a debate in and of itself and we don’t have time to go there today.) But I can tell you explicitly that I am as big a fan of southern dressing as I am of SEC college football. And converting me to anything otherwise is a battle lost before it’s begun!
You can probably see where this is going… The very first Thanksgiving I spent with my husband’s family, I was beyond excited to fill my plate 2/3 full with dressing like I do every year. I even told (more than one person I’m sure) how the dressing was my favorite part of my meal and I was super excited to load up my plate. We were eating buffet style that year and as planned, I loaded my plate right up. When I sat down at the table, I thought it was a little bit interesting looking, and a lot more ahhh, glued together than I was used to but I didn’t think too much of it until I took a bite. And y’all, for this southern girl’s taste buds, it was not good. I looked around thinking surely there was something wrong with the recipe but everyone else was just gobbling it up like it was manna from heaven.
Now before I get myself into some serious trouble, I want to be the first to say that my in-laws are excellent cooks! Over the years, I’ve been introduced to several other Thanksgiving dishes that we never had at our southern table and I’m a huge fan! But I just cannot let go of the cornbread version I was raised on. And you can be sure that the next time we celebrated I offered to cook up a pan of my mom’s delicious recipe.
So today I’m sharing that lovely recipe that’s floated around my family for several generations. If you’ve never tried a cornbread-based dressing, I cannot imagine a better one to go with than my family’s version. Now, I’ll be honest, the recipe that floats around our family looks more like “pinch of this, grab some biscuit from the morning’s breakfast, chop some celery” than an official recipe. But when pressed, my mom graciously did her best to give a more complete recipe for you to recreate. Without further ado (and make sure you read this out loud in your best Sandra southern accent as possible!)
Sandra’s Southern Style Cornbread Dressing.
- 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- Salute first three ingredients until tender. Drain. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- 2-3 Chicken breasts boiled and chopped fine (reserve stock to add later if needed.)
- Biscuit (per Mom, I always use biscuit. A small can is fine baked and crumbled if don’t have any homemade on hand. Per Carrie, I can promise you I never have any homemade biscuit on hand!) *Aside, per my Meme, the plural form of biscuit is – biscuit – ha!!!
- One pan of cornbread. (I personally love just about any of Southern Living’s cornbread recipes – I just always leave out the sugar and I always prepare it in a cast iron skillet.)
- In a large bowl crumble the cornbread and add in crumbled biscuit.
- Add the chopped vegetable mixture and chicken
- 1 box chicken broth – gradually add to crumbled mixture.
- 1/2 t sage
- Can of cream of chicken soup
Mix all ingredients together and add any reserved liquid from chicken if needed. Place in sprayed casserole dish. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.
Although I’m biased, there has never been anyone who has tried this recipe that hasn’t loved it! Please let me know if you give it a try. Although I cannot make it down south this year for the holidays I know I will be cooking up my best version of mom’s dressing for our Thanksgiving meal! Even my born and bred Maine husband demands it on the holiday table!
*This dish freezes beautifully and my mom always sets some aside to freeze if I can’t make it for Thanksgiving but am home for Christmas! Also, I’ve learned that chicken is not standard in southern cornbread dressing, but my family really loves the flavor it adds and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
**DISCLAIMER – I love my husband’s family and they are all good cooks. My southern taste buds take full responsibility for any critique shared here. Clearly, it is a me issue when it comes to dressing!