Cornbread Dressing

People love cornbread dressing. It’s traditional at Thanksgiving, but the popularity of “dressing” or “stuffing” (even when there’s nothing being stuffed except friends and family) has spawned various boxes of “instant” dressing so that you can have it with any meal. I haven’t tried the boxed versions, but I can tell you how to make it from scratch. It’s easy! 😀

First make up a batch (or two) of Granny’s Cornbread. This is the basis of the dressing. (My mother and grandmother always added crumbled stale white bread that had been left out to get stale just for this purpose, but I omit this.) Saute green onions, bell pepper and celery in a small amount of oil in a skillet. (If you’re making gravy, reserve some of the green onion and bell pepper to be sauted and added to the gravy.) I cook up a lot of “the green stuff” (as we called it around our house when I was growing up). After crumbling up the cornbread (let it cool or you’ll regret it), stir in the green stuff mixture until the proportion looks right. Add some vegetarian broth and stir in until you have a moist mixture, wetter than you prefer to eat it because some of that moisture will cook away when you bake it. Stir in a bit of sage (or whatever seasoning you prefer for stuffing). Bake 350 until the top is slightly browned and crispy. Stir and serve. If it’s too dry, add a bit more broth. If it’s too moist, return to the oven. There really isn’t a set time for it to be “done” because all the ingredients are already cooked, though the seasoning needs a bit of heat to really meld with the flavor of the stuffing. It’s done when it looks right to you.

The problem most people have with holiday dressing is that some people will think it didn’t come out right because it’s too dry, while for other people it will be just right. Likewise some people will find it disgustingly wet while others think it’s just right. There’s no way to please everyone unless everyone likes their dressing the exact same way. Myself, I prefer a dry-ish stuffing, with just enough moisture that if you grabbed a handful and squeezed it, it would stick together, but tending to crumble a bit as you scoop it out. Dressing that has the consistency of mush and is served with an ice cream scoop is too wet for me. 😉 It seems to me that dressing that tends more toward dry than wet is the best way to go because I always dress the dressing with gravy. 😀 If anyone complains that the dressing is too dry, pass them the gravy boat! 😀

As you can see, there are countless ways to modify this recipe. The herbs you use will put a stamp on the flavor, as will the amount of celery you use. Using regular onions instead of green onions are an option (green onions snip up so fast that aside from being traditional in my family, they’re much faster to prep), and if you want to shock your guests you could slip some hot chiles into the mix instead of bell pepper. Garlic fiends might want to saute some garlic with the green stuff. It would guarantee the holiday wouldn’t be crashed by vampires out looking for a good time since Halloween. 😉

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