I am going to give you the "secret" recipe for my Mother's Dressing.
Consider yourselves blessed.
This is the best southern cornbread dressing recipe in Chicago.
(We always called it DRESSING, not STUFFING)
I just figured it was DRESSING because my mother was from down South and it was more fancy there than good ol' New Jersey STUFFING.
Turns out, STUFFING is cooked in the turkey and DRESSING is cooked in a baking dish.
Weirdly, we always stuffed the turkey with Mom's dressing, with some left over to put in a casserole to cook outside the bird.
We never got Salmonella. Not. Even. Once.
My husband INSISTS on cooking the dressing outside of the bird.
I usually get the bird in the oven before he wakes up and Muuhhaaawwaaww....stuff the bird.
And guess what?
We've Never. Gotten. Salmonella. EVER.
Part of the reason we've never gotten sick is that my Mother and I both obsessively checked the temperature of the bird in multiple spots, away from the bones (which conduct heat very well and may falsely elevate the temperature near the thermometer). 165 degrees Farhenheit internal temperature, baby!
That said, my family members are often heard to say things like, "Oh, it's okay if you dropped the turkey on the floor. The heat will kill any germs."
Personally, I have washed the turkey with soap and water first and THEN said those words. BTW, if you do that, please rinse it really, really, REALLY well. Soap tastes terrible. Just sayin'.
Okay. so here goes. And remember, measurements are approximate. Taste it as you go.
Mom's Cornbread and Sausage Dressing
(along with words of caution and admonition from my memories of making it with Mom)
- 2 boxes of Jiffy Cornbread Mix (NOT Martha White. It isn't sweet enough).
- 1 tube of Jimmy Dean Mild breakfast sausage and 1 tube of Spicy/Hot Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage
- (and another tube of sausage because the family will raid the sausage and if you want to have enough to make the dressing, you have to make enough to satisfy the hoarding Mongols)
- Stale Italian bread or white bread--one loaf
- 1 cup of chopped celery and 2 cups of chopped onion. (don't put too much celery in--my Mom said it is too overpowering if you do.)
- chicken broth (canned/boxed is fine) usually about 2-3 qts if you like it moist.
- Poultry seasoning. LOTS of it.
- Sage (My Mom hated sage. She said it tasted like soap. We weren't allowed to use extra, but frankly, she smoked and I don't know how she tasted anything. I LOVE sage and grow a ton every year for just this purpose.)
- white pepper
- red pepper flakes
- eggs --but it increases the risk of salmonella. I use pasteurized eggs, myself.
Cook the cornbread the night before and let it sit out overnight to get stale. (Not if you have mice though--Put it in the fridge then. Seriously. It could be a disaster otherwise.)
Partially freeze the sausage. Cut right through the plastic tubing and make patties of sausage and cook 'em up in some vegetable oil.(of course take them out of the plastic rings you've cut!)
Drain on paper towels.
Slap marauding hands vigorously as they steal the cooked sausage. Make a good show of it and don't let on that you made enough for them to steal. It helps with getting them to do the dishes later. Guilt. My secret ingredient.
Brown the onions and celery in the oil from the sausages. Drain the oil off the onions and celery (unless you want wicked heartburn).
In a vat (we use an old Tupperware Cake thingy-- It's huge):
crumble the cornbread and the white bread.
Crumble and add the sausage
Add the drained onions and celery
Cover the entire top of the dressing mix with a layer of poultry seasoning. (It should look greenish brown from all of the poultry seasoning. Add extra sage here if you want. There is sage in poultry seasoning already, though)
Add salt and pepper and red pepper flakes.
Now. Take off your rings, roll up your sleeves and get ready.
Pour chicken broth over and mix it up with your hands.(This is a good job for the kids)
Keep adding broth until it's moist (for stuffing) or really moist for dressing. It will get more moist in the bird, and dry out in the casserole dish.
TASTE IT before you add the eggs.
(Add the eggs if you want.)
IF you put it in the bird, stuff the neck cavity as well as the chest. Use skewers or twine to close it up.
If you put it in a casserole dish, then cover it tightly with aluminum foil to bake so it doesn't dry out too much.
Bake in a 350-375 degree F oven for about an hour.
Bake to an internal temp of 165 degrees F in the bird. Check in multiple spots with an instant read thermometer.