Although in many families, the turkey takes center stage on Thanksgiving, at our house the dressing is the star. I made many attempts to finally get the recipe that makes my family happy. In the South, we don't stuff the turkey. We cook our "stuffing" in huge pans so there's a nice brown edge all around and lots of leftovers. Well, sometimes there are leftovers!
3 large skillets cornbread, crumbled
1 long loaf French bread, crumbled
2 sleeves saltine crackers, crushed
2 hens, cooked, cooled and shredded
2 bay leaves
Salt & Black pepper
3 medium onions, chopped
6 stalks celery, diced
1 stick butter
2 t. ground sage
2 T. poultry seasoning
5 beaten eggs
1 cup evaporated milk or heavy cream
Cook cornbread the day before cooking dressing. After cooking and cooling, crumble and spread out on a large cookie sheet to dry. Tear French bread into small chunks and dry in a warm oven. Crumble. Crush crackers & mix with French bread and cornbread crumbles in a LARGE bowl.
Cook hens in enough water to cover adding several tablespoons of chicken base, the bay leaves and several grinds of black pepper. Cool and shred chicken. Reserve broth.
Melt butter in large skillet and sauté onions and celery until softened and translucent, about 10 – 15 minutes. Pour over bread mixture.
Add 8 cups of reserved chicken broth and mix well. Add black pepper and salt to taste. Mix in sage and poultry seasoning. Add beaten eggs and evaporated milk and mix well. Slowly mix in shredded chicken. Add additional broth if mixture is too dry.
Reserve 3 heaping Tablespoons for gravy. Pour into large greased pan and bake in a 350º oven for 1 ½ - 2 hours. Cover with foil if dressing begins to brown too quickly.
4 Cups broth reserved from cooking hens
Giblets from hens (chopped fine)
2 chicken bouillon cubes or 2 t. chicken base
3 heaping T. of reserved uncooked dressing
3 T. cornstarch
1/3 cup cold water
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring stock to a boil along with chopped giblets. Add bouillon cubes (or base) and dressing. Mix cornstarch with water and add to boiling stock, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and continue to cook for 2 – 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper and gently stir in chopped eggs.