It’s time to give another grandma (on my dad’s side) her moment to shine. Mama Head as we called her had down home dialed in. I clearly remember the massive amount of impatience I felt on Thanksgiving mornings to dig into all the wonderful foods the Head family and its matriarch had made.
Since the lunch line was so long, I never messed around the first time through. You know what I’m talking about. One double-scoop dish to make it on my plate was her cornbread dressing. Even as a kid not fond of vegetables, I would scarf it down, celery and all, with a side of slow roasted turkey. And with a little bit of cranberry sauce on top- heaven!
Now as an adult, it’s a gastronomic reflex. If it’s Thanksgiving, I have to have cornbread dressing. And not just any cornbread dressing, this cornbread dressing. Turkey just doesn’t taste as good without it.
I gander it has something to do with its earthy sage fragrance. Or it could be the tender crumbs, bathed in chicken broth. Or it could even be the sweet and salty cornbread base, which is amazing in its own right.
Cornbread Stuffing vs. Cornbread Dressing
A friend once said about our Friendsgiving dinner menu that “Anyone who calls it dressing can’t have any of my stuffing.” If you were to ask my family, thems Thanksgiving fighting words. So let’s set the record straight.
From a purely technical standpoint, stuffing is used to stuff (think: turkey cavity). On the other hand, a dressing is made in a separate pan and usually served on the side. While I didn’t realize this was so contentious a debate to some, consider it easily settled. I’m looking at you, Sylvia. I’ll continue to call it dressing and I’m happy to bring my own!
So what else is there to say, except be sure to taste test before the raw egg goes in! One bite of cornbread dressing will welcome you to the East Texas Thanksgiving table of my childhood. Enjoy!
Turkey's favorite sidekick! It's not Thanksgiving without the matriarch's cornbread dressing.
- 1 8-inch by 8-inch pan prepared cornbread cooled
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
- 1/2 large yellow onion diced
- 3 stalks celery thinly sliced
- 1 sprig fresh sage leaves
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon ground sage
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 cups roasted chicken shredded
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large mixing bowl, crumble up the cooled cornbread.
In a sauté pan, melt the butter on medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, sauté celery and onion, along with the sprig of fresh sage leaves and a pinch of salt until tender, about 5 minutes.
Remove the sprig of sage leaves, and mix the butter, celery, and onion into the cornbread.
Add the remaining ingredients to the cornbread mix, and stir well to combine.
Transfer the cornbread dressing to an 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or until the top is evenly browned and the dressing is cooked through.