I like to think that my love affair with Thanksgiving dinner started on the day of my birth. On the evening I was born I’m quite certain that I felt some sort of longing for more to eat, for my parents had enjoyed “our” first big Thanksgiving feast only the night before. Thanksgiving was in my system for good.
It was years, decades actually, before I officially took Thanksgiving over from my parents, and I had received many years of holiday tutelage before I made it “my day”. Now my family knows the routine, and they know that I have a hard time delegating, and many years I insist on making it all myself. Only recently have I been able to let a few things go. Pies, for one… But I’m contemplating taking them back as well.
I have worked in the food editorial world for the last sixteen years, stockpiling hundreds of recipes in my Thanksgiving file (among others). But somehow, each year the same dishes are requested, so there is not much room for experimentation or improvisation. I leave that to Christmas…although we have formed some pretty firm food traditions there as well.
One dish I have made every Thanksgiving for at least the last decade is this cornbread stuffing. I love that the combination of cornbread and sourdough brings together my two lives – the Southern heritage of my family and the important years of my life spent in the Northeast. I toss in a heady amount of sautéed onion and celery, as well as a few handfuls of chopped herbs. No mushrooms, oysters, chestnuts or sausage…although all of those things are mighty welcome in dressing. Just not today.
This version holds court on my holiday table, but its true calling comes the next day when it comes time to whip up “Thanksgiving on a Roll” – white bread sandwiches, layered with turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, and a heap of warmed dressing.
* Start thinking about your stuffing a few days before you make it, for it is best when made with slightly stale cornbread and sourdough. Click here for my version of buttermilk cornbread.
* This story originally appeared in the November/December 2014 issue of Edible Tulsa magazine. Click here to read the entire issue…
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 1 recipe homemade buttermilk cornbread, or store- bought (crumbled to equal 4 to 5 cups)
- 1/2 loaf day-old sourdough bread, cubed (4 to 5 cups)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock, plus more if needed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Heat oven to 375°. Melt the butter in a large high-sided sauté pan. Add the onions, garlic, and celery; cook over medium heat until they start to soften, about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Crumble the cornbread into a large bowl, toss in the sourdough and then add the onion mixture, parsley, sage and oregano. Whisk together the eggs, chicken stock, salt and pepper and pour it over the bread mixture, tossing well to combine. Add more stock if the mixture seems dry.
- Transfer the mixture to a buttered, large casserole dish or ovenproof skillet and bake until golden on top and cooked through, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, and serve hot.