Every year I look forward to reading all the great Cooking Magazines to see what new recipes are trending for that year or what chefs come up with to put their spin on old traditional dishes. I get excited and try to decide on something new to put on my Thanksgiving dinner table. But every time I would change a recipe or try something new, I got very negative reactions, like the year I decided to make homemade cranberry sauce….the kids had a fit “What happened to our cranberry sauce with the lines on it??? What’s this stuff????” Or “What happened to your Parker House Rolls?” “We don’t like those grocery store Brown & Serve ones!”
The only time they did not complain was when I made my dear friend Mardella’s Country Cornbread Dressing. It has become part of our traditional Thanksgiving feast and sits next to Uncle Frank’s Oyster Dressing….I now have to make them both.
For many years, Oyster Dressing was the only one I served but when my Uncle Bob and Aunt Tia started coming to dinner, he asked “where was the cornbread dressing?” Uncle Bob was raised in Tennessee and that’s what his Mama always served. SO the next year I was determined to make real country cornbread dressing so I turned to my dear friend for help.
Uncle Frank’s Oyster Dressing is on page 37 of the cookbook. IF YOU WANT TO SEE A VIDEO OF ME MAKING HIS DRESSING GO TO www.how2heroes.com and click on Thanksgiving recipes. It is listed as Oyster Stuffing…but everybody down here knows we call it dressing and it is always baked outside the bird in a baking dish! And if you are interested in a Cajun Oyster Dressing, there’s a great one on page 38 from French Settlement, Louisiana.
Uncle Frank’s Oyster Dressing
MARDELLA’S COUNTRY CORNBREAD DRESSING
This picture is before baking….
This recipe makes two pans……one for Thanksgiving and one to freeze for Christmas.
Mardella’s Country Chicken/Cornbread Dressing (Chiqui Style)
For the Chicken:
1 whole chicken, well rinsed (I use a rotisserie Chicken and make it like the directions in my Chicken and Dumplings recipe I just posted)
chicken giblets, well rinsed (I SOMETIMES WILL BUY EXTRA TURKEY NECKS TO ADD TO THE BROTH)
1 onion, cut-up
2 green onions, left whole
2 carrots, cut-up
2 ribs celery. cut-up
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
few sprigs parsley
1 teasp. lemon-pepper
2 tabsp. chicken soup base
Combine all ingredients in a stockpot and add enough water to cover by three inches. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour and 45 min. (or longer) until chicken is tender. Strain and reserve broth. Remove skin and bones from the chicken and tear into small chunks. Slice or chop all giblets. Place chicken meat and giblets in a very large bowl. Set aside.
**Chiqui Note: For a quicker and easier chicken stock, check out my method of making stock with a rotisserie chicken in the Chicken and Dumpling post!
You cannot leave out the chicken in this recipe because it would not be authentic.
For the Dressing:
1-12″ iron skillet of your favorite cornbread (without sugar, PLEASE!!)This is about two recipes of cornbread in quantity. Cooled and crumbled. I use the recipe on the back of Martha White’s yellow cornmeal mix with Hot Rise. I crumble it and place on a sheet pan so it will dry out.
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1 stick of unsalted butter
3 yellow onions, chopped
3 bunches green onions (scallions), thinly sliced including green tops
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 ribs of celery, chopped
4 hard cooked eggs, finely minced
2 cans cream of chicken soup (Hold your britches…this is how Mardella makes it and I’ve left it out before and the dressing suffered for it!! Just do it!)
Rubbed sage to taste (I use about a teasp. or so but you can use it to your taste)
salt to taste and Lots of black pepper (I use lemon-pepper, of course, sugah)
Reserved chicken stock as needed.
Saute all vegetables in melted butter until softened. Add these to the chicken along with the crumbled cornbread and fresh breadcrumbs. Add all remaining ingredients including enough chicken stock to create a very moist dressing. Do include a lot of broth, as it gets absorbed in the dressing as it bakes.
Divide the dressing between two casseroles. Wrap both very well in plastic wrap and then in heavy duty foil. Freeze them. Save one for Christmas dinner and use the other for Thanksgiving. When ready to use, remove from the freezer the night before and leave it on the counter overnight to defrost. Remove the foil and the plastic wrap. Place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 325* for 45 min. Stir it well and add a little more turkey drippings on top if needed for extra moisture. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes.