Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Chicken and Cornbread Dressing

   When I was little and we would visit my dad's side of the family for Thanksgiving, I was really confused as to why chicken and cornbread dressing wasn't there!  (There wasn't even regular cornbread!  Only some gross sweet stuff out of a box mix.)  I assumed it was something that everyone always had.  They had stuffing... in the bird.  I can't even begin to explain how upset (and nauseated) I was by this idea.  I still think stuffing anything inside the cavity of avian creatures with the intent of eating it later, is a terrible and disgusting concept.  

   This dish is Thanksgiving to me.  I truly need nothing else on the 4th Thursday of November except a HUGE plate of this dressing.  We don't have a lot of family recipes that are passed down and traditional and junk--actually, I don't think we have any--except this.  Granny (grandmother on my mom's side) has been making this for at least 40 years.  I assume longer.  My mom always complained about it as a little kid because my grandma put in huge chunks of raw onion that remained slightly raw throughout the cooking process.  (Unfortunately, Granny really isn't that great of a cook.)  So my mom took over making it however long ago.  And I know that I'll make it every Thanksgiving for my kids and grandchildren.  And they sure as hell better make for their future generations!

Chicken and Cornbread Dressing
2 med onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 roasted chicken breasts, chopped*
2 roasted chicken thighs, chopped*
1 12" pan of cornbread, crumbled**
4 lightly toasted pieces of reg sandwich bread, torn into small pieces
1 Tbsp ground sage
1 tsp black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
4 C low sodium chicken stock (roughly 1 whole box)

*A small-med rotisserie chicken works perfectly! Please remove all skin, that won't be tasty in the dressing.
**You MUST use white, unsweetened cornbread.  I can't stress the importance enough!  Any white cornmeal you buy should have a recipe for (unsweetened) cornbread on the package.

   In a little bit of oil, saute onions and celery until tender and onions are slightly golden at the edges (~7 min).  Combine vegetables, chicken and breads.  Add sage and pepper.  Add eggs and stock.  Mix everything.  It will be kind of wet and a little soupy, don't worry.
   Pour into a greased 13x9x3 baking dish.
   Bake at 400 deg F for 45 min-1 hr, until everything is set, liquid is gone, and top is golden.
   Serves 10-12. 

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