I know I can be a bit extra. This recipe suits me, but even I only make it once a year. I’ve fiddled until I’ve found the ingredients that I like best for all the textures and flavors and think it’s worth the effort.
We used to do a basic bread dressing from a box, until a friend showed us her quick and easy cornbread dressing, which I liked better. This isn’t that recipe. I liked the cornbread flavor, but didn’t like that it quickly became mush and tasted a lot like the cream of chicken soup that was mixed in.
I wanted the cornbread to not completely dissolve and I wanted a contrast of sweet and spicy that still included the herbs and traditional Thanksgiving flavors. This one started out as a Martha Stewart recipe from her 1982 Entertaining cookbook, but I kept tweaking it until I got to this version.
Note: I do skip the chestnuts in recent years because they’re a pain and this makes SO MUCH that it gets expensive to include them anyway.
Cornbread For Dressing
buttery and delicious, the perfect texture for dressing, IMHO
- 2 cups coarse grind cornmeal
- 2 1/2 cups fine cornmeal
- 3 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1 Tbsp. salt
- 4 1/2 cups milk
- 2 cups melted butter, cooled a bit
- 6 eggs, slightly beaten
- Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Mix together wet ingredients and stir into cornmeal mix until moistened.
- Spread out into 2 well greased jelly roll pans (a 1″ deep pan, wide and flat) the goal should be for it to fill up the pan as it bakes.
- Bake at 400℉ until golden brown – I’d start checking at 20 minutes and watch based on your pan size. In my 15″ x 10.5″ x 1″ pans using the convection bake settings, it took about 30 minutes.
Loaded Cornbread Dressing
So many good things at once!
- cornbread from above (see note on how to prep below)
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup brandy / cognac – I’ve used Southern Comfort when I was out of those.
- 4-6 cups chopped onion
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup butter
- 3 lbs. bulk pork sausage (breakfast sausage, 1 spicy and one sage flavored, if possible)
- 1 cup chopped shallots
- 4 cups chopped tart apples
- 2 cups chopped celery
- 30 oz. cooked chestnuts, chopped (optional)
- 1 large bunch fresh parsley, chopped (at least 1 cup)
- 3 Tbsp. dried sage
- 2 Tbsp. marjoram leaves
- 1 Tbsp. thyme leaves
- 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 2 Tbsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. pepper
- 4-6 eggs
- Soak raisins in brandy or cognac the night ahead. I don’t know that Martha Stewart would approve of Southern Comfort, but I didn’t mind.
- Bake bread a day ahead and cut into 1” cubes the day you mix it (don’t let it get too and try not to cut the chunks too small or the cornbread will completely crumble into mush as you mix in all the fixings).
- In a large skillet or deep wide pan, sauté onions and garlic in butter until softened, 5-10 minutes.
- Add bulk sausage and shallots and cook until sausage is browned, about 10 more minutes.
- Stir in apple and celery, cook until softened another 10 minutes.
- Mix together the bread and cooked filling. Stir in eggs and pour into a wide flat pan to bake at 350℉ for 20-30 minutes. You can mix it ahead heat before serving, but it will take longer. The total time will also depend on the size of the pan so it heats through. Watch and put foil on top if it starts to brown too quickly.