Summary: Growing up in a family with definite Cajun roots, our Thanksgiving and Christmas tables were chock full of incredible food. The stars, however, were my Nanny's cranberry sauce and cornbread and rice dressings. It wasn't until I moved to Northern climes did I hear dressings referred to as stuffings. We never cooked our dressing inside the turkey, ours always included meat, and these dishes remain family favorites.
The cornbread dressing was my favorite version, and I've tweaked it a bit over the years, most notably to use ground turkey rather than beef. As with many Louisiana recipes, you start with a saute of the Trinity (celery, bell peppers and onions) and then add to that. I adore this dish and look forward to making it each year for our Thanksgiving celebration!
Yield: one 2-quart soufflé dish, or a 9x13 casserole dish
- canola oil
- 1½ cups diced celery
- ½ cup diced green bell pepper
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2-3 pounds ground beef (or turkey)
- ~2 cups chicken broth
- cooked rice or cornbread
In a stock pot, pour the canola oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add celery, pepper and onions, and cook, stirring often, until soft. Add the meat and cook until it’s browned and the veggies are wilted. Add broth, and if you feel there’s not enough liquid, add some water. You want some extra "juice" because you're going to be stirring this mixture into the cornbread, and moisture is key!
Season well with salt and pepper, cover pot, and simmer for about 30 minutes. When done, taste and re-season with salt and pepper if need be. Add in half of the crumbled cornbread, and stir well to combine. Does the dressing look meat heavy? If so, add more cornbread. You want about a 50/50 blend.
Turn your finished dressing out into a 2-quart soufflé dish or a 9x13 casserole, cover with foil, and heat in a 350° F oven until warmed through. If you like a slightly crisp top, remove the foil for the last 10-15 minutes.
Freeze if not using immediately, or mix with rice or crumbled cornbread and re-season. If not serving immediately, warm before doing so.