A Bitten Word Recipe
Way back in 2008, for the very first Thanksgiving we ever wrote about on The Bitten Word, we made a dressing using a recipe from Zach's mom. It's the kind of dressing we both grew up eating at Thanksgiving -- cornbread-based, flavored with sage and other spices, and wet and dense and cakey, with almost a brownie-like consistency.
This is the kind of dish that rarely shows up in food magazines. Over the years of cataloging Thanksgiving trends, we've seen only handful of dressings in this style.
So for our final Fakesgiving this year, we wanted to circle back to that classic Southern dressing that we both loved so much.
But this time we decided to give it a twist.
We decided to try two different versions of this classic cornbread dressing: one straightforward and based on the recipe we'd used before (but with the spices and herbs turned up a notch), and another version with pork sausage and toasted walnuts mixed in.
We baked our cornbread a few days early and stored it in Ziploc bags. We prepared the dressings the day before our dinner and stored them in the fridge; then the next day, we simply popped them in the oven and baked them until set.
Which one did we prefer? We honestly don't know! They're both really good. The plain dressing was just as good as ever, with a wonderful warm sage flavor infused throughout. And as a vehicle for gravy, this dressing is pretty much unbeatable. But the version with the sausage and toasted walnuts was a huge hit with our guests, too. Obviously, it's got some extra flavor and crunch that add a nice new dimension to the dish.
Basically, you can't go wrong either way!
What about you? Have you ever had this style of denser, cakier Thanksgiving dressing? We're curious!
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SOUTHERN-STYLE BUTTERMILK CORNBREAD DRESSSING
A recipe from The Bitten Word
1 pound mild breakfast sausage (optional)
1 cup chopped walnut pieces (optional)
4 cups buttermilk cornbread crumbs (we used this Buttery Cornbread)
2 cups white bread crumbs
2 medium white onions, chopped very fine
5 stalks celery, chopped fine
1 tablespoon parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 stick of butter, melted
3 1/2 cups chicken stock (plus more if needed)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
If adding in the sausage: In a medium saucepan, brown the sausage over medium heat. Set aside on a paper towel-lined plate and let cool.
If adding in the walnuts: Scatter the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients except chicken stock, including the sausage and walnuts, if using.
Add chicken broth, stirring to combine, until the mixture is the consistency of cake batter and easy pourable. Transfer mixture to a 9x12 cake pan. Bake until set firm but still slightly moist, about 1 hour. For a drier dressing, increase bake time by 15 minutes.
MAKE AHEAD: Either version of this dressing can be mixed together a day in advance, stored overnight in the refrigerator, and then baked just prior to serving. However, if you're using the toasted walnuts, wait to mix those in until just prior to baking. (They'll get soft if they sit in the chicken stock mixture overnight.)