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Author Notes: 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 sauté of the Trinity (celery, bell peppers and onions) and then add to that. I adore this dish and look forward to making it next month for our Thanksgiving celebration! —em-i-lis
Makes 1 2-quart soufflé dish, or a 9x13 casserole dish
Make the cornbread (the base recipe for this is one I found on epicurious years ago; I've made a few additions to approximate the slight sweetness of the Jiffy mix my mom used when I was growing up).
- 1 cup milk
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1¼ cups stone ground yellow cornmeal
- ¾ cups AP flour
- ¾ teaspoons salt
- ¾ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Preheat oven to 375, and grease a 9" round or 8"x8" square pan. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the first four ingredients, milk through honey. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients, cornmeal through sugar.
- Combine the two mixtures and stir until everything is incorporated, but don't overmix. Scrape into the prepared pan and bake 22-24 minutes. Let cool until you can handle it and then crumble coarsely into a mixing bowl. Set aside. You can also make the cornbread a day ahead- simply cool and then wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Crumble just before using.
For the turkey mixture
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1½ cups chopped (a small chop) celery
- ½ cups chopped (small chop) green bell pepper
- 1 cup chopped (small chop) onion
- 2 - 2½ pounds ground turkey (a mixture of breast and thigh is nice)
- 2 cups chicken or turkey broth
- 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 oven until warmed through. If you like a slightly crisp top, remove the foil for the last 10-15 minutes.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Thanksgiving Turkey