When I was a little girl, a friend of my mother’s reminisced about her childhood in Kansas. She said the week before Thanksgiving, there was homemade bread on every kitchen counter, sitting out, getting stale for the stuffing. That image stayed with me, and was a technique I incorporated when I created my dressing and my stuffing.
This cornmeal, bacon and onion dressing is very moist, satisfying and a rich, smoky counterpoint to turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy. While I’ve been making it for at least 15 years, as is often the case, it changes a little every time. This is the latest incarnation.
I make the cornbread on Monday of Thanksgiving week. It’s great to have that step out of the way so far in advance. —MrsWheelbarrow
8, at least
fine cornmeal, stone ground
coarse cornmeal, stone ground
cream of tartar
unsalted butter, melted
applewood smoked bacon, cut into lardons
onions, cut into a 1/2" dice
firm, crisp apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2" dice
chopped flat leaf parsley
rich chicken stock
In This Recipe
Preheat the oven to 425. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and brush the paper with oil or butter.
Make the cornbread: Whisk the dry ingredients together.
Whisk the eggs, buttermilk and melted butter and incorporate into the dry ingredients just until combined.
Using an offset spatula, spread the cornbread across the parchment paper.
Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. Once cooled, cut into croutons and leave on the sheet pan to get a little stale, at least overnight.
Make the dressing: Cook the bacon in a roomy saute pan until crispy. Allow to drain on paper towels.
Add the onions to the bacon fat in the pan, add the seasonings and cook slowly until the onions are wilted.
Add the apples and cook until the onions and apples are well caramelized.
Pour in the chicken stock to deglaze the pan then turn off the heat and allow the stock to cool a bit.
Heat the cream until small bubbles appear at the edges of the pan.
Whip the eggwhites until stiff.
Assemble the dressing: In a large bowl, combine the cornbread croutons with the bacon, apples, onion and chicken stock, and cream.
Fold in the eggwhites.
Press the dressing into a buttered large gratin or baking dish.
Bake for 55 minutes at 350. For a really fantastic finish, drizzle turkey drippings - any not used for gravy making - across the top. Raise the oven temperature to 425 and bake for 10 more minutes until crispy and a little blistered on the surface.