My mother-in-law, Mary Cheatham, cooked this traditional family recipe. (Because her name was Mary and for a few more reasons, I have reverted to the name Mary Lou Cheatham to avoid confusion, although most of my friends except the ones in Taylorsville and on Facebook, call me Mary.)
Fanny, a precious friend in Peru, is a missionary and the wife of a missionary from Louisiana. She is planning to cook a USA Thanksgiving dinner and needs help. I am posting this recipe for her and for you if you’d like to try some of the best traditional cornbread dressing I’ve ever eaten.
2 batches cornbread prepared according to the instructions on the mix (Mom uses Martha White buttermilk mix; we use Jiffy®.)
½ - ⅔ large loaf white sandwich bread
6 large onions
1 bunch of celery less 2 stalks
½ bunch parsley
1½ teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon sage
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
Salt to taste
5 large eggs
Hot water or chicken broth (depending on the use of the dressing.)
In a huge pan crumble the cornbread; tear the white bread into small pieces.
Sauté the celery and onions in oil but do not allow them to brown. Cut the long stems off the parsley and tear the parsley into small pieces. Stir the vegetables and the seasonings into the breadcrumbs. With vigorous stirring, add the eggs. Continuing to stir, add enough hot water to make a moist dressing. (Alternate directions: if the dressing is to be served as a side dish instead of stuffing, moisten it with chicken broth.)
Cook the dressing in a scant amount of oil in a large electric skillet until it is warm. Adjust the seasonings according to your mood.
Store the dressing in the refrigerator until it is time to stuff the turkey. (If the dressing is to be served as a side dish at a later time, bake it until it is light golden brown on top. Store it in the freezer.)
Having lived in Louisiana for more than half my life, I’ve become addicted to cayenne pepper. This dressing is better if you shake a little cayenne into it. Stir well so one of your guests won’t get a mouth full.
Just a reminder: Stuffing is cooked inside a bird, and dressing is cooked outside of it. My mother-in-law used this recipe to stuff a turkey, and she always had two cake pans of it left over no matter how big her bird was.
One more note: My daughter and I have stopped cooking the dressing in a small amount of oil. (See the last step of the recipe.) Mom did that to avoid food poisoning from stored raw eggs. Instead of frying it again, we mix it just before we bake it. Then there is no danger. I never stuff a bird. Instead I cook it in a separate pan. It’s lighter and lower in calories. Also there’s no danger this way. The problem of food poisoning arises when a bird is stuffed.
This recipe is featured in Flavored with Love, available on Amazon.com