Can we please pause for the cause and talk about dressing for a moment? Cornbread dressing to be exact! Our family recipe was passed down from my Grandmother to my Mommy and my Mommy passed it on to me. I’ve been making the original version of this recipe since I was nine years old and it has consistently been one of my favorite things about holiday cooking. There is just something about this dish. It’s savory, it’s bread (and who doesn’t love bread), it’s packed with seasoning. I mean, what’s not to love. To be honest with you, if I had to pick one thing that I loved best about Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, it would probably be the cornbread dressing! It’s the under appreciated dish of the season.
The base of our recipe is grounded in my families southern roots. A good southern dressing always starts out with a good cornbread. We don’t use stale white bread or any of that – just good basic cornbread. That’s the key to success! You also have to make your own stock that is packed with flavor. You won’t get this kind of flavor from store bought stock (but if you’re in a pinch, of course you can use a quality store bought stock). Cast iron skillets work best for making awesome cornbread because they distribute heat evenly. I use a Lodge cast iron skillet. You can find one on Amazon here.
After I became an adult, I started experimenting with my family’s dressing recipe. I started to add different ingredients to switch up the flavors just bit. I make dressing a few time a year, so I wanted to make sure we aren’t always eating the same thing over and over again. I currently have three versions of dressing that I keep in rotation. Today, I’ll share with you one of my favorites – my Next Level Cornbread Dressing. Personally, I think this one has the most savory flavor of all of the dressings I make. This is the recipe that I will generally make for Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy it too!
Click here to see the video tutorial of this recipe!
Next Level Cornbread Dressing
2 large eggs lightly beaten
1 cup milk (you can use whole or skim)
1 tbs baking powder
1 ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
3 tbs of sugar
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
⅓ cup vegetable oil
Cast iron skillet
Make sure your rack is in the middle position and preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
In a bowl, stir together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until combined evenly.
Add the eggs and milk and stir well, but do not over mix.
Heat your oil on the stove in the cast iron skillet. After oil is hot (but NOT smoking), add the oil to your cornbread batter and stir well to incorporate all of the oil.
Pour the batter back into the skillet, smooth the top, and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until firm to the touch and edges are golden brown. Let cool – then crumble the cornbread into small pieces with hands or food processor. This makes about 5 cups.
***The cornbread can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated when using for the dressing. Crumble on day of making the dressing. The instructions for making dressing are below.***
Cornbread Dressing Recipe:
Giblets from turkey or chicken (be sure to discard the heart)
5 cups of water
½ tsp Thyme
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp seasoning salt
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
1 carrot cut in half
Combine all ingredients in a stock pot and let simmer for one hour. It will reduce to approximately three cups of stock.
1 tbsp dried Sage
1 tbsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced bell pepper
1 cup diced celery
1 stick of unsalted butter
Additional ½ stick of unsalted butter
2 Eggs lightly beaten
2 to 2 ¼ cups turkey or chicken Broth (see recipe above)
½ lb. Italian turkey sausage (you can use sweet, mild, or spicy)
Kosher salt to taste
In a large bowl, add your crumbled cornbread.
Melt 1 stick butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery and sauté, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent. Add the sauteed vegetables to the crumbled cornbread.
Pour in seasoning mix – dried sage, poultry seasoning, black pepper, and garlic powder.
Pour in 2 cups of stock and stir. Your mixture should be moist but not soggy. You may or may not need to add up to another ¼ cup depending on your mixture.
Chop the giblets from your stock into small pieces and add that to your dressing mixture. 6. Remove sausage from casing and cook in a sauté pan – make sure to break the sausage apart into small pieces as you are cooking it. Add the cooked sausage to your dressing mixture.
Taste for seasoning. This is the time to add salt if you need it. Remember that you already have salt in your cornbread, stock, and the Italian sausage, TASTE FIRST before adding additional salt.
Melt the remaining ½ stick of butter and add that to the dressing mixture.
Add the eggs and stir well.
Let this mixture sit for at least a ½ and hour to an hour (you can also make this a day ahead and refrigerate). This will allow the flavors to marry together.