Stuffing, Not Stuffing
We call this “dressing” because we never actually stuff the bird with anything but a half an onion, fresh herbs, and maybe a lemon. It’s baked separately, and you don’t have issues with “is it cooked?” or having to dig it out of the bird carcass.
1 Cup finely grown white cornmeal
About 1/2 pound of dried stale mixed bread remnants from a variety of different breads (mostly dried crusts)
1/4 pound unsalted butter
1-2 cups chopped celery
1-2 cups chopped onions
3 cups chicken stock, turkey stock, or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon of dried thyme
Fresh sage leaves, chopped, about 1 cup
Fresh parsley, chopped, about 1/2 cup
2 tablespoons salt
4 tablespoons black pepper
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
This time I was able to pick up a bag of mixed bread crusts and bits from the local bakery. These had already been dried and were the approximate texture of croutons – you can just leave bread out overnight after being sliced, and then roughly chop it up if you can’t buy it like this. This bag was wonderful, it had rye, pumpernickel, whole grains, rustic, etc.
All my life I’ve made “cornbread dressing” wherein I cooked the cornbread first and let it cool. Last year, I cut out the extra milk and eggs from the dressing recipe, and this year I decided to refine that even further. The earlier cornbread recipe I knew was to mix cornmeal and boiling water until it was a thick batter (not quite pourable) and then fry that in a pan with oil. So I added boiling water to a cup of cornmeal and kept stirring, adding a bit more water until it was the consistency of thick grits. This was added to the mixture made below.
Sweat the onions and the celery in the butter at low heat, covered, for 15 minutes. Add the stock, the thyme, the fresh sage, parsley, and the spices. Pour all of this over the bread/cornbread in a large mixing bowl and stir. Let sit for at least 30 minutes to soak up the liquid, then spoon into a flat casserole dish, cover, and refrigerate until ready to cook.
Bake at 350 degrees in the oven for 30-45 minutes.
Note: This recipe used to be all cornbread, and had eggs in it. This current version appears to last longer as leftovers, and has a great texture, and if you really need it to be a bit wetter, just add gravy when you eat it (yum). As of the 2011 edit of this recipe, the texture remained moist and flavorful for days.