Auntie Em's Guide to Life

A guide to all the important things in life- marriage, family, cooking, gardening, reading, travel, Christian living… And whatever else grabs my attention!

Auntie Em’s Cornbread Dressing

This is actually Granny’s/Grandma Ballard’s cornbread dressing, but I have Granny’s seal of approval ; ) I bet you will like it too! We had our annual Thanksgiving feast at our church last night and I made turkey and dressing with gravy (just a bit left), Auntie Em’s famous macaroni and cheese (nothing left), Grandma Ballard’s caramel pie (licked clean), and green beans (a bit left; who wants green beans when you have macaroni and cheese, and marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes lol!?)

Grandma's recipe for Cornbread dressing

I made a double batch of this dressing, except I neglected to read it ahead of time and and made only ONE double batch of Granny’s cornbread. It was still fine! Since I was cooking so much, I made it a 2-day affair. Granny fusses about making the cornbread the day ahead, but she liked it anyway!

THE DAY BEFORE:

1. Boil a hen in a large, heavy stockpot. Add salt and pepper, plus the skins and tops of your onions, garlic, and celery to flavor the broth. This will take a LONG TIME. After the water came to a boil, I turned down the heat and covered, cooked her for an hour and she was still tough. I probably could have cooked her another hour and the meat would have come off the bones a lot easier.

Be sure you get a HEN, not just a chicken. You get richer broth and your meat is firmer. Good for gumbo too!

I cut the root ends of the onion and celery off and tossed them; they just looked dirty. But I put all the rest of the scraps in the pot!

hen for boiling onion and celery

onion and celery scraps for stockpot Boiling hen in the stockpot

Here she is with everything ready to cook. I would have added garlic if I’d had any; I had to use garlic powder.

I just thought this was a funny picture. Reminded me of Achilles!

boiling hen

Here’s what she looks like after her swim: Let her cool, then pull off and chop the meat. You are going to put the little pieces in the dressing, and lay the breast slices on top. Strain the broth and put in a large container to use to moisten the dressing and make the gravy. Save the skin and bones for boiling, to get more good broth! Put them in a freezer bag and freeze them if you don’t want to do it now.

Boiled hen

Now for the bread– you can use regular, cheap, store-brand biscuits, or bigger, butter-flecked ones. I used the cheap-o ones this time. It should have been TWO double batches of cornbread, but I used just one. Minus a slice. (Somebody, whose initials are MX got to it!)

Granny's cornbread biscuits for dressing

Pull apart in 1-2 inch pieces and put in a jumbo ziplock bag or large covered bowl if you are making the day ahead. (Don’t tell Granny.)

Preparing cornbread dressing

Chop your onion and celery. I had a huge onion and it made almost 4 cups. I was very worried , fearing that it would be too much, but it was GOOD! And my 3 cups of chopped celery was the amount the recipe called for. (dumb luck) This time, instead of sautéing in a stick of butter, I used broth (DIET cornbread dressing!) and it worked out fine. Painless ways to cut calories are the way to go.

sautee celery and onion

Wait to combine everything until just before you are ready to cook it. First put the biscuit and cornbread pieces in a large pan. Add salt, pepper, sage, plus basil, rosemary, sage, and parsley. Start with a tablespoon or so of each, depending on your taste. Toss around to mix, then gently mix in chopped hen meat and chopped boiled eggs. Finally, add broth from the hen you boiled. Pour gently over the whole pan.  Start with 4-5 cups, and stir gently. All this “stir gently” is to make sure you don’t end up with cornbread dressing mush. And be careful to spread it around evenly but don’t smash it down.  Add enough broth to have just a bit standing in the bottom of the pan when you move the bread aside. I used almost 7 cups. Bake at 375 till browned, probably 30-45 minutes. During the last 10-15 minute you can add sliced meat in the top if you like.

toss biscuits and cornbread to mix egg slicer egg slicer

Ready to go! Recipe below. Gravy tomorrow!

Cornbread dressing

Not much was left!

empty pot luck

Auntie Em’s Grandma Ballard’s Hen and Dressing

1– 5 pound hen; boiled and deboned (True confessions: I’ve used canned chicken and broth before. Add some bouillon cubes and butter to make it richer.)

Bake and tear into 1″ pieces

  • 1 double recipe Granny’s cornbread
  • 2 cans biscuits

Sautee

  • 1 cup butter or broth
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion (Auntie Em uses 1.5 to 2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped celery

Seasonings

  • 1 TBS salt and pepper
  • 1 TBS parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme*

2-3 boiled eggs, chopped

Mix all together and gently add 2-4 cups broth .

Bake at 375 for 25-40 minutes, till brown.

*SING while you add it lol!!! (I can never resist a musical pun!)

Auntie Em's holiday cooking Collage

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