Mama’s Cornbread Dressing

Mama’s Cornbread Dressing is a classic, heartwarming dish often associated with Southern cooking and traditional family gatherings, particularly around holidays like Thanksgiving. This dish starts with the cornerstone ingredient: cornbread. The cornbread for this recipe is typically made from scratch, using cornmeal, flour, baking powder, eggs, and buttermilk, creating a texture that’s the perfect balance of crumbly and moist. It’s baked until golden brown, with a crispy crust and a tender interior.

Once the cornbread is prepared and cooled, it’s crumbled into large chunks. To these, a medley of finely diced celery and onions are added, sautéed in butter until they are translucent and aromatic. The vegetables bring a savory and slightly sweet flavor profile that complements the cornbread’s richness.

Herbs and spices play a crucial role in this dressing. Sage, thyme, and parsley are often used, either fresh or dried, providing a depth of flavor that is both earthy and fragrant. These herbs mingle with the cornbread and vegetables, infusing the dish with their distinctive aromas.

The mixture is then moistened with a rich stock, traditionally made from chicken or turkey, which is poured over the cornbread and vegetable mix. The stock’s role is vital; it not only adds moisture but also brings all the flavors together while keeping the dressing light and fluffy.

Eggs are beaten and added to the mix, acting as a binding agent to help the dressing hold its shape while baking. This ensures that, once cooked, the dressing is cohesive yet still beautifully textured, with each spoonful offering a bit of crunch from the cornbread’s crust, the softness of its crumb, and the savory burst of the seasoned vegetables.

The dressing is then baked in a large baking dish until it’s heated through and the top is lightly browned. This final baking step allows the flavors to meld together and the top layer to develop a slightly crispy texture, contrasting with the soft, flavorful interior.

Mama’s Cornbread Dressing is often served alongside roasted turkey, gravy, and other traditional side dishes like green beans and mashed potatoes. It’s a dish that evokes nostalgia and comfort, reminding many of family, home-cooked meals, and gatherings around the dinner table. The recipe, often passed down through generations, can vary slightly between families, but the core of comforting flavors and the joy it brings remains a constant, cherished part of culinary traditions.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups crumbled cornbread
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage, or more to taste
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

How To Make Mama’s Cornbread Dressing

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 7×11-inch baking dish. Place crumbled cornbread in a large bowl.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and celery and sauté until soft, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add sautéed onion and celery to the crumbled cornbread. Stir in chicken stock, eggs, sage, salt, and pepper until well combined. Pour dressing into the prepared baking dish.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until dressing just starts to turn golden brown around the edges, about 30 minutes.
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