One of the many reasons I like the holiday season so much is because that’s when people pull out all the stops: the once-a-year turkey, the special holiday ham, Aunt So-and-So’s famous pumpkin pie… In my family, the much beloved and anticipated dish is this homemade cornbread stuffing.
Yesterday I showed you how to make my family’s favorite cornbread. Today I’m sharing how to turn that cornbread into a savory side dish. Let’s get cooking!
First, you’ll need to make cornbread. Here’s a quick recap from yesterday’s post; you can find the full recipe HERE.
1. Combine flour, yellow corn meal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
2. Create a well by pushing the dry ingredients to the edges of the bowl. Pour homemade buttermilk, vegetable oil and an egg into the center.
3. Mix until combined. It’s okay if there are a few lumps; just make sure the flour in fully incorporated.
4. Pour batter into greased and floured 8″ square pan.
5. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before handling.
While the cornbread is baking, put a pot of water on the stove and make a simple chicken stock.
I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the stock because I don’t want to desecrate the turkey before the big feast. (You could skip this step and shred a cooked turkey leg or rotisserie chicken instead.) I also include an onion, a few cloves of garlic, celery and a few seasonings. Let the stock boil until the chicken is fully cooked.
Once the chicken is done, remove and shred with two forks. Strain and reserve the stock liquid for a later step; discard the solids.
When the cornbread is done and cooling, throw a few tablespoons of butter into a pan and sauté diced celery and onions until soft. Season them with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning.
Poultry seasoning is my shortcut for the triad of herbs: sage, rosemary and thyme. It’s got a few others thrown in there for good measure, too. My mom introduced me to it the last time we made cornbread stuffing together and it’s been a keeper ever since.
Once the cornbread is cool enough to handle, break it up into a large bowl. Add the sautéed celery and onions. Dice boiled eggs and add them, too. Lastly, add the shredded chicken and a bit of the stock. Season with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning to taste.
Now, you can combine all of this with a spoon, but I find it far more effective to just get in there with clean hands. Mix until well combined, adding stock liquid little by little as needed. You want the stuffing to be moist, but not wet.
Transfer into a baking pan and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until golden and crisp on top. Hello, honey!
I usually do all the prep the day before and put the stuffing in the oven for its final bake the day of. It’s a shame we only have it twice a year — it is so good.
So what are you planning for your holiday menu? Are you a stuffing fan? Do you have some must-have dishes? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Thanks for reading! — v.