The Perfect Dressing Recipe
My Mom makes this recipe every Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is one of my all-time favorites holiday recipes. Every time she makes it, she always sets a little unbaked portion aside for my sister and I to take home and freeze to make at a later time. This is the perfect dressing recipe!
What you will need:
- 3 loaves of bread, toasted
- 1 1/2 whole chicken
- 1 pancake of cornbread (cornmeal and water, directions below)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Onion, optional
What you need to do:
Steps 1-4 can be done the night before in preparation for a big meal. You can also freeze the dressing at this point to save for later.
1. Toast the bread. This is the part that I used to love doing as a child and now my daughter and nephew love to do. The perfect task for a child who wants to contribute to a holiday meal. After toasting, tear the bread into 4 smaller squares. Set aside.
2. Boil the chicken. My Mom usually boils 2 whole chickens and uses 1 1/2 for the dressing and the other half for giblet gravy. When the chicken is done, let it cool before shredding off of the bone. Save the leftover broth. Set aside.
3. Make the cornbread. Combine cornmeal and water until it has the consistency of thick pancake batter. Heat Crisco in a large nonstick skillet. Pour batter in the skillet and fry until golden brown. Flip and fry again until golden brown. Set aside.
4. In a very large mixing bowl (remember the huge silver bowls?) combine the toasted bread, boiled chicken, and cornbread. Pour in some of the leftover chicken broth and mix by hand. You want the consistency to be thick, but blended. As my Mom says, you want it to jiggle. Adjust the amount of chicken broth to get the jiggle. Add salt and pepper to taste. At this point, if you choose to add onion, do it now and mix.
5.Pour mixture into large rectangular pans. This recipe will take 2-3 pans.
6. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Bake times will vary based on your oven. It is best to keep a close eye on your dressing while it cooks as it will cook super fast at this temperature. Bake the dressing until it is toasted and golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
This recipe is delicious served as is or with a spoonful of giblet gravy on top. And as I stated above, you can make this recipe ahead and freeze in a pie pan to bake at a later time.
BONUS: Vegetarian Option
A few years ago I decided to try vegetarianism for health and weight-loss reasons and when the holidays rolled around I just couldn’t fathom the idea of having Christmas dinner without my Mom’s famous dressing, so I asked her to modify it for me. Here are her modifications:
- Eliminate the boiled chicken, substitute with MorningStar Chik’n Strips
- Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, i.e Swanson Vegetable Broth
Honestly, I couldn’t tell much of a difference using the substitutions. It was just as tasty and I didn’t feel like I was missing out on a holiday staple.
Please let me know what you think of this recipe (original or vegetarian) in the comments.