Have you ever stopped to think just how many of the dishes we consider special actually came from trying to feed a family on nothing? Chicken and dressing, that dish that graces most of our Thanksgiving and Christmas tables, is one of those.
From the time when every family had yard chickens and (while white flour might be at a premium) most had corn to grind for meal, mom’s all over the South did a great job of combining the two into something to be eagerly anticipated…all the way into the 21st century.
I don’t know that my recipe is any better than anyone else’s, but I thought I would share it with you today. I’m making a fairly large amount so cut your ingredients according to your crowd.
Cornbread Fixings (or use your favorite mix with 2 packages per skillet)
1 1/2 Bunches Celery
1 Whole Chicken
Sage, to taste…and you will have to taste the first time.
Salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Chop celery and onion into small bite-sized pieces.
2. Mix up enough cornbread to fill 3 skillets.
3. Divide celery and onion between 3 batches of cornbread and stir into each.
4. Add to skillets (that have a bit of hot grease covering the bottom) and bake according to recipe directions. I usually have to add another 15-20 minutes of baking time.
I normally cook my cornbread a day or two ahead of time and refrigerate to make my serving day easier; however, you can certainly do it all on one day.
5. Boil chicken until done. Be sure to use plenty of water and save as broth.
6. Slice off of the bone. I usually skin as well.
7. In very large container, mix crumpled cornbread, pieces of chicken, broth from the chicken, and Swanson’s chicken broth (not fat free!) if more is needed. You want to use enough broth so that the mixture is slightly soupy.
8. Stir in 6 eggs.
9. A lot of people don’t do it, but I like to take 6-10 pieces of white bread slices and crumb them into cornbread mix. We think this keeps the cornbread from being “mealy.”
10. Pour all into a greased deep sided pan. I still use the old speckled blue, but I feel sure it will still be dressing if you use something else!
11. Bake about 1 1/2 hours for this amount of dressing. You want to avoid baking until your dressing is too dry!
12. Obviously, you can simply serve in a bowl, around your turkey, or even stuff into your turkey. You can also serve this chicken and dressing with no turkey at all!