Does biscuit n' cornbread stuffing really work?
November 20, 2012 11:27 AM   Subscribe

Thanksgivingfilter: stuffing edition. Southern style.

So I'm making the stuffing, among other things, for the Thanksgiving dinner I'm attending. (OK, I guess it's technically "dressing", since I'm cooking it outside the turkey.) Usually, I make it with good stale bread. But my husband is southern, and I just heard him and his sister rhapsodizing about their late grandmother's stuffing: made with day old (homemade) biscuits and cornbread.

I am intrigued and want to try this. But I've never tasted it, and I'm worried about the texture. Both biscuits and cornbread are crumbly; neither has the stretchy texture of a yeast bread whose gluten is allowed to develop. Isn't it all going to kind of turn to mush when stock is added? Should I throw in some yeasted bread as well?

Southern mefites, enlighten me!
posted by kestrel251 to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The texture of cornbread based stuffing is supposed to be like a firm pudding which will be different than the cubed bread based stuffing you're used to preparing. I leave recipes and preparation tips to those who have actually made the stuff -- I just eat it -- but some amount of mush is actually a feature in this instance, not a bug.
posted by macadamiaranch at 11:34 AM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

My southern family recipe uses a 50/50 mix of corn bread and white bread. You may want to ask further follow up questions - my recipe has sausage and chicken in it too - so it's very different from any stuffing I've ever had in the North.
posted by dadici at 11:42 AM on November 20, 2012

I make cornbread and sausage stuffing every year. It is almost always crumbly. Here's a recipe I am basing my stuffing on this year, minus the cranberries and parsnips.
posted by fyrebelley at 11:43 AM on November 20, 2012

Old biscuits and cornbread dressing is definitely a thing, but who leaves biscuits uneaten? Ha. This is the recipe I'm using as good guideline. I'm using some day old, not crusty, bread to sub for the old biscuits. It DOES turn to mush, in a way, its like custard, but the biscuit/white bread helps lighten up the texture. Bake it till it is firm enough to cut with a knife.
posted by stormygrey at 11:45 AM on November 20, 2012

Dadici -- I was going to otherwise do it like a white bread stuffing. Saute onions and celery in a good amount of butter, mix it with the bread, add some sage and stock and salt if needed. I don't really want sausage in it... but I see that many online recipes indeed do it that way. Will I be missing the point?
posted by kestrel251 at 11:47 AM on November 20, 2012

Nah, the sage and stock will do you fine. I make mine vegan and its still pretty amazing as long as I make really nice deep stock.
posted by stormygrey at 11:49 AM on November 20, 2012

Oooh ooh! This is my specialty! Southern dressing is indeed much softer and moister (and infinitely more divine) than stuffing, more like a spoon bread. As said above, the mush is a feature, not a bug.

I use 50/50 crumbled (not cubed!) cornbread and bread or 25% bread 25% biscuits, but I don't see why you couldn't use all biscuits (although that might make it a bit dense). The cornbread should not, from my Middle Tennessee background, be sweet at all.

Here is my dressing recipe: and here is the cornbread I make to put in it:
posted by mostlymartha at 11:50 AM on November 20, 2012 [16 favorites]

I can vouch for mostlymartha's dressing. I have flown across the country more than once for the pleasure of eating it. Basically all of the rest of Thanksgiving can go stuff it (har har) if you can eat that dressing.
posted by whitneyarner at 11:54 AM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

My mother makes cornbread dressing (no other bread aside from cornbread) and adds an egg or two to bind it. No matter what recipe you use, it will probably look really, really wet before you cook it, much wetter than you're used to seeing.

On preview, my mother makes an almost identical version of mostlymartha's dressing. And my mother got her recipe from her mother, a truly lovely woman from rural Mississippi.
posted by cooker girl at 11:56 AM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes, as noted above, the cornbread should not be sweetened.

Sausage or Oysters are optional add-ins, but be sure to cook either one before adding.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:59 AM on November 20, 2012

And to prove that there are a million different ways of doing this: we never cook the oysters before adding them in. (And a little of the oyster liquor, too, yum!) 50/50 yellow, non-sweet cornbread and toasted white bread, sage, onions, and celery.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:02 PM on November 20, 2012

Don't be shy with the stock, I've had cornbread stuffing that had the mouth feel of chewing gravel. It's hard to smile and compliment the chef when your trying to get enough moisture in your mouth to swallow their pride and joy.
posted by Max Power at 12:02 PM on November 20, 2012

Make your cornbread dressing somewhat like a bread-pudding. Season it up however you like and then using stock and an egg to bind it, bake it in the oven. It's fabulous, although I think most southerner's use too much sage. (I don't like sage.)

On review mostlymartha's recipe will work really well.

I'm becoming a Yankee/Southern hybrid. But I'm totally cool with it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:03 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mostlymartha, sunburnt -- I already think sweet cornbread is an abomination, so at least I'm good on that score! Thanks, everyone.
posted by kestrel251 at 12:03 PM on November 20, 2012

My North Carolinian family has a generations old recipe for this. We use part cornbread and part white bread. And you put a whole lot of chicken stock over the top so it retains its moisture. There's also lots of eggs. Here's the recipe if you can use it. It's a winner.

8 cups cornbread, cubed
2 cups white bread, cubed
3 1/2 cups celery, finely diced
1 1/2 cups onions, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
6 eggs
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups chicken broth, canned broth is o.k (or more if it looks too dry, it will set as it cooks)

Gently saute onion and celery in butter until tender, do not overcook. Fold into bread/ cornbread mixture using a large mixing bowl. Add herbs and seasonings, toss to mix.

Beat eggs, add to cooked chicken broth. Mix with all other ingredients.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. You can make 1 large casserole or 2 in smaller containers, foil or glass. Freezes well.
posted by mermily at 1:01 PM on November 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh Lord!!! Anybody calling it "stuffing" needs to be spanked with a wet noodle!! It's DRESSING!! and mostlymartha's recipe looks wonderful and perfectly respectful of a true Southern Kitchen. Just be sure it's served with love, and gravy. Cranberry salad on the side....
posted by pearlybob at 1:08 PM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

One thing my mother brought back to the midwest with her after living 8 years in Texas is cornbread stuffing with oysters. Pricey if you use a lot of oysters, but damn that shit it tasty as hell. Especially if it's a little spicy.

I think she used the River Road 2 cornbread dressing recipe and added the oysters. Pretty sure she uses butter instead of shortening to make her cornbread.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 5:07 PM on November 20, 2012

One more question, if anyone is still following this: can I make it in the morning and just warm it up at my friend's house? (That's what I would do with white bread stuffing.) Or do I have to cook it right before serving?

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
posted by kestrel251 at 6:16 AM on November 21, 2012

You can absolutely cook it in advance and heat it up! You may need to put foil over the top so it won't dry out (thus killing the crisp top a bit), but it shouldn't hurt it at all. Memail me if you need any last-minute help.
posted by mostlymartha at 10:47 AM on November 21, 2012

Update: I basically followed mostlymartha's recipe (no saltines, but some biscuits) and it was a smashing success. Thanks, everyone!!
posted by kestrel251 at 5:02 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

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