Dressing is something that defines a family. A simple comfort food made from leftover bread to stretch an expensive meal (typically using what type of bread you had available so in the south- cornbread, in the north- wheat bread.) You can almost guess where someone’s grandma hails from by what type they serve you. (Dressing, stuffing, cornbread, white bread, fruits, nuts, oysters, chicken, chestnuts…)
My maternal grandmother was Canadian. She moved to the deep south in the 1940’s, marrying into a family of Scarborough’s where her mother-in-law had been a true southern debutante and did NOT appreciate her son marrying a “Yankee.”So my southern mother learned to make a white bread stuffing (not dressing) usually studded with fresh pecans.
My husband’s grandmother was from the south and made a traditional cornbread dressing.
When we started hosting our family holidays we had an unexpected conflict on what we would serve- an all white bread dressing with nuts like my Canadian grandma made or a total traditional cornbread dressing like my husband’s grandmother made? Everyone wanted their personal favorite and so a compromise was needed. Thus, I came up with a yin-yang combination dressing that seems to please everyone!
Scarborough Fair Dressing
Cornbread and bread traditional dressing for holidays!
14 ounces cornbread ((or a large cast iron skillet full) I use homemade but you can use any mix or recipe. )
14 ounces dried bread cubes or stuffing mix
1/2 onion (chopped)
4 stalks celery (chopped)
7 ounces melted butter (can substitute with olive oil )
2 Tablespoons fresh Italian Parsley (finely minced)
1 6" branch fresh Rosemary (take leaves off of stem and finely mince)
1 Tablespoon fresh Thyme (finely minced)
4 cups vegetable, chicken, or turkey stock (Homemade is best but even bouillon will do!)
1 cup milk or Half & Half
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
Nuts, raisins, or chopped apricots ((Optional additions))
Put bread and cornbread in a large bowl and mix.
In a medium skillet over medium high heat, saute onions and celery in olive oil or butter until translucent.
Add fresh herbs and cook 1 or 2 minutes more.
Add about 1/2 cup of stock to the pan to deglaze the juices and remove from heat.
Add stock and melted butter to bowl with breads.
Mix and slowly add remaining stock and milk (or half & half)
NOTE: The total amount of liquid may vary depending on how dry the breads are and humidity in air. You want the mixture to stick together and be fairly moist (so it won't dry out too much when baked.)
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Butter a large baking pan (12 x 24)and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. (Or until golden brown on top.)
Time Saving Tip:
I make my cornbread a day or two before the holidays. I also saute onions, herbs, and celery and add them to the cornbread before baking. This allows you to skip steps and have all your burners free for other dishes!
1-In a large bowl put bread and cornbread and mix together.
Yin & Yang of Bread waiting to be mixed!
2-In a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, saute onions and celery in olive oil or butter until translucent. Add fresh herbs and cook approximately 1-2 minutes more.
Time-saving tip: I make my cornbread a day or two before the holidays. I like to saute the onions, celery, and herbs then add to the cornbread before baking. Then when I go to make the dressing I can skip step 2 all together. This is especially helpful when you have all the burners cooking for other dishes!
3- Add about ½ cup stock to the pan with vegetables to deglaze the juices and add all of this to the bowl with bread. Add your melted butter also at this point.
4- Mix and slowly add the rest of the stock and milk. The amount needed may vary depending on how dry ingredients are, humidity etc. You want the mixture to be sticking together and pretty wet (not total mush, but til it’s VERY wet so it doesn’t dry out too much when baking.) Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper to taste and more herbs if necessary.
5- Put in a large buttered baking pan (12×24) and bakeat 375 for 45 minutes to an hour. You want it to be golden brown on top and edges.
Ready to bake
Remember that dressing is something that you can easily give your own family touch by simply adding local ingredients or that mean something special to you!