Turkey and dressing for the holidays is the family favorite. While there are plenty of sites that explain turkey making, it is hard to find answers to questions about dressing to go with the most important part of the meal. So Midstate Mills decided to offer some tips to help you along with creating your perfect and simple holiday dressing.
Southern Dressing means Cornbread Dressing
Southern dressing starts with cornbread. If you buy packaged stuffing mix, you are missing out on how great dressing can be. It takes a bit of time, but is worth the effort.
Great ingredients make Great Cornbread
Everyone who has tried Tenda-Bake® Corn Meal Mix loves the cornbread. For great food, it is all about the ingredients. The Tenda-Bake cornbread bakes up moist and light. Using terrific cornbread is the key to making dressing. Cornbread can be moist enough that you don’t need you use added bread to the recipe.
Stuffing versus Dressing
Stuffing gets put in the bird, dressing in a dish. Most southerners don’t make stuffing anymore. Turkey tends to be dry when stuffed because the stuffing MUST come to 165 degrees or higher for safe eating. The turkey by that time is overcooked. Your grandma may have done it that way, but it is not recommended (most processed turkey these days does have salmonella). Put it in a dish and have moist turkey and safe dressing.
Make it Ahead
For less stress, start making cornbread for your dressing now. When you bake cornbread to go along with fall chili and soups, freeze the leftovers in zip top freezer bags. Then you will have plenty on hand ahead of time.
If you don’t have leftovers, bake the cornbread on the Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Make the cornbread and leave it to dry. Then mix the dressing on Wednesday so that you have less preparation on the big day or you can dry the cornbread by crumbling it and toasting it in a 300-degree oven for about 15 minutes. Plan to adjust your liquid based on how dry the cornbread you are using.
Create your Recipe
Adjust any recipe to your own liking. Add favorite dried fruits or vegetables such as mushrooms, squash, garlic, onion, celery and leave out anything you think people won’t like. Consider nuts such as pecans or pine nuts for added crunch.
Do you like moist dressing that is custard-like and holds together are crumbly dressing? You can adjust it by the amount of eggs added. The more eggs the more it holds together. Also, if you add more broth, you will have a more custard-like consistency. Pressing the dressing into the pan versus lightly spooning it in makes a difference in texture as well. Dressings such as Sausage Cornbread Dressing and the Bacon Cornbread Dressing Muffins on Midstate Mill’s web site serve cut into squares or muffin shapes that hold together. Dressing such as the Stuffed Pumpkin Dressing or Sausage Apple Cranberry Dressing is a looser more crumbly type of dressing.
For a more firm dressing with a crisp top, bake it uncovered. For softer dressing, cover it, and remove the cover the last 10 minutes of cooking.
The flavor of most dressing comes from sage. Dried sage is easier to work with and adds a concentrated flavor. If you would like, add fresh sage and dried sage. Poultry seasoning is an easy addition for dressing. For some green color and flavor, add chopped fresh flat leaf parsley. Be sure to taste raw dressing before you add the egg, and adjust as needed.
Whatever you do to make your dressing your own, it is the memories that your children and grandchildren will hold as THE way dressing should taste.
Dressing up Dressing with Meats
Cooked meats, always cook meats before adding to dressings, make flavorful dressings. Sausage, country ham or bacon are very southern, along with oysters in the coastal south.
What if my dressing is too dry or too wet?
If dressing looks dry, stir the dressing. Add pats of butter and additional broth and return to the oven. If dressing is wet, bake uncovered for a longer time, stirring occasionally, unless you want a more custard-like dressing.
How much to make?
Plan on about ½ cup to ¾ cup of dressing per person. It will vary according to the number of other items being served.
What to do with leftovers?
Dressing can be refrigerated for about 2 days, and can be frozen for up to a month. So leftovers do not have to all be eaten after the big day, that way you can pick up lunch out while you are bargain shopping on Black Friday.