Georgia’s SOUTHERN CORNBREAD DRESSING

Table of Contents: Vegetables

Make in advance and freeze so that YOU can enjoy your holiday!

As those of you who know me are aware, Georgia and my mother taught me how to cook.  After many years, Georgia and I are still cooking together.  We are both “bull-headed”, but yesterday I prevailed.  I was actually able to get her to grudgingly agree to let me write down her Thanksgiving and Christmas “Dressing’ recipe as she was making it.  Getting her to measure ingredients for the recipe was no small feat!  But, we did it and had such a fun day.  I cooked a “pan” last night to photograph and froze all of the rest for Thanksgiving.  If I could send via the Internet, the wonderful aroma of the dressing cooking, there would be a stampede to our house for a tasting!

To Vegetarians: just substitute vegetable broth for turkey or chicken broth.

The recipe makes enough for a small army!  It makes about 1 (5-qt.) and 2 (3-qt.) baking dishes.  Divide the recipe in half to make a lesser amount, if preferred.  The uncooked dressing mixture can be frozen in the spray-oiled baking dishes.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap or press and seal wrap; then cover tightly with heavy-duty foil.  It can also be frozen, uncooked, in freezer zip-lock bags.  Place the zip-lock bag in a baking dish that will ultimately be used for cooking the dressing at a later time. This freezes the mixture in the shape of the baking dish.  When hard frozen, remove the baking dish to use for other cooking.  The frozen bag of dressing mixture will stack easily in the freezer.  When ready to bake, remove the zip-lock bag and slip the already shaped frozen block of dressing mixture into the spray-oiled baking dish to defrost; then bake.  For future reference, this tip is also in my COOKING TIPS category.   The tip can also be used for freezing other foods.    

23 pieces of regular-slice white bread (a full 24-oz. loaf)
2 cups sweet milk
8 medium yellow onions (about 3 lbs.)
2 whole stalks fresh celery
½ cup vegetable oil, divided  (she prefers to use bacon drippings, but …..)
5 cups white self-rising corn meal, divided
3 cups buttermilk, divided
2 quarts plus 1 cup (9 cups) rich turkey or chicken broth. (Georgia uses turkey wings, water, salt & pepper to make her broth)
2 T. salt plus 1 tsp., divided
4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
6 large eggs

 

 

 

 

 

Carefully toast the white bread to get it crisp, but not Cajun crisp!   Place the toasted bread in a very large mixing bowl (Georgia uses the bottom part of my turkey roaster); then pour the sweet milk over the slices.  Set aside to allow the bread to soak up the milk.

In a food processor or blender, process the onions to a fine chop, but not pureed.  Put cut onions into a large colander to drain.  Wash, break the ribs, and string the celery.  Process the celery like the onions and put into the same colander to drain.  Set aside.

Make the cornbread in 2 separate makings in an iron skillet or a heavy skillet.  Put ¼ cup of the oil into the skillet and place in the oven at 400 degrees. While oil is heating, use a medium bowl to mix 2 ½ cups of the self-rising cornmeal with 1½ cups of the buttermilk.  Allow oil to get very hot, but not smoking.  Carefully pour the hot oil into the cornmeal mixture and stir quickly to blend.  Immediately pour the cornmeal mixture into the hot skillet and return the filled skillet to the preheated oven.  Bake, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until cornbread is set or firm. Turn oven to broil at 500 degrees and place an oven rack on the top slot.  Quickly brown the top of the cornbread in the skillet.  Watch carefully; it will brown fast.  The old-fashioned name for this type of cornbread is a “hoecake”.  Put the whole hoecake on top of the soaking toast slices.  Then make another hoecake and add it to the soaking toast.  Put a little butter on a small piece of the hot hoecake and eat it –just to be sure that it is good!  Great excuse, huh?

With very clean hands or with latex gloves on, break-up the hoecakes and soaked toast.  Begin adding the broth, a cup at a time and thoroughly blending the two kinds of bread.  When breads are well mixed and all broth is added; then stir in the onions and celery. Continue to mix and blend completely.  Add 2 T. of the salt and all of the pepper.  Stir carefully to blend all ingredients.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs very well and beat in the remaining 1tsp. salt.  Stir the beaten eggs into the dressing mixture until the eggs are completely mixed with all ingredients.

Pour the dressing mixture into spray-oiled baking dishes.  When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake on the lowest rack for at least 1 hour, plus.  Cook until the top is browned and the dressing is set or firm.  Do not overcook since the dressing could get too dry.  Allow dressing to “rest” for about 10 minutes before serving.

A warming tray keeps dressing hot very nicely.  Leftover dressing can be heated in the microwave.  

This recipe is for those who want to try another dressing recipe or for those who have never made dressing.  The dish called “Dressing” or “Stuffing” is very, very subjective.  Almost everyone likes the dressing or stuffing that they grew up eating.  Recipes vary from family to family – some use all bread, all cornbread, biscuits, rye bread, oysters, chestnuts, my friend Romie’s “neck-bone meat”, pecans, softer, firmer; I could go on and on.  This probably will not taste like YOUR grandmother’s recipe, but it does taste like MY maternal grandmother’s recipe and Georgia made it for her!  ENJOY.

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