Tuesday, November 16, 2010

South Louisiana Cornbread Dressing

My grandparents used to own a cemetery in Louisiana. I was six and my sister was three when late one Thanksgiving afternoon, after we had all eaten, my oldest cousin snuck away to set up a prank on all of us younger cousins, 6 of us to be exact with the 4 oldest being boys (Seven with the oldest prankster). He then came inside, got us and took us up to the only above ground mausoleum in the cemetery, telling us we just "HAD" to come and see.

Once we got close, he told us the ghosts were trying to get out and were coming to get us and kill us! He had wedged a turkey thigh bone into the crack around the perimeter of the door and poured ketchup all over it to make it look like blood! When we got really close to look, he shoved us towards the door and screamed, "THEY'RE GETTING OUT" and ran down the hill and left us all there!

We were screaming and crying and trying to run away, bumping into each other and grabbing onto each other while still trying to escape (envision The Keystone Kops). All of my cousins older than myself and my sister were able to run but we, being the youngest, were so terrified and crying, we couldn't see and we stumbled around, running and falling until we made it down the hill and back home. My sister and I were traumatized about that for years to come!

Needless to say, our "old prankster" got the stick and we got the laugh! We sought revenge later in the weekend by luring him into the basement and later into the cemetery barn and scaring the bejeezus outta him both times by making ghost sounds and bumping around! Revenge is a dish best served COLD!

At any rate, my grandmother made the best cornbread dressing and it has been our family tradition to have it with Giblet gravy since long before I was born. She passed her recipes on to me and I took over some of the holiday cooking duties in my mid 20’s. Later I introduced Spinach Madeline (see recipe in another post) and that has now become our other traditional favorite dish along with Sweet Potato Casserole.

The Cornbread:
3 tablespoons bacon drippings or butter
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups corn meal
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1-1/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450°F. Put the bacon drippings/butter in a 9x13-inch baking dish and put it in the oven while it is preheating. It will melt while you're mixing up the batter.

Beat the eggs in a medium bowl until frothy. Add the corn meal, salt, baking soda and baking powder, and stir to combine. Add the buttermilk and stir well. Remove the hot dish from the oven. Swirl the dish to coat it with melted bacon drippings/butter then pour it into the batter and stir to combine. Pour the batter into the pan, and bake 20 to 25 minutes. The cornbread will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Make the cornbread a day before you intend to make your dressing. Leave it out, uncovered, overnight.

The Dressing:
1 9x13-inch pan of cornbread, crumbled
10 pieces white or whole wheat bread, heels are good (left out overnight)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large stalks celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped (2-1/2 to 3 cups)
1 large green pepper, chopped
3/4 cup butter (1-1/2 sticks)
4 cups chicken broth, canned or homemade
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp rubbed sage

Preheat oven to 375°F. Crumble the cornbread and white bread into a very large baking dish or pan (This is the pan you will cook your dressing in, and you need room to stir it while it's cooking). Combine the vegetables with the bread crumbs and mix well. Melt the butter and add it and the beaten eggs, chicken broth and stir. (You may need a little more chicken broth – its better if it's too moist than too dry; the uncooked dressing should be a little on the slushy side.) Add poultry seasoning, rubbed sage, black pepper, and mix thoroughly.

Bake 15 minutes then stir dressing from the sides of the pan into the rest so that it cooks uniformly. Recheck the seasonings, adding more if necessary. Bake until browning on sides and top and center has set.


  1. It's not a holiday without spinach Madeleine! This is like crack for me and I've been known to eat it as a dip with tortilla chips. Where are you finding Mexican velveeta? I still have to go the jalapeno route. Thanks for posting all of these great holiday recipes!

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    2. You can most of all the flavors at Walmart, I can even find them in Kansas, which I love because I am a "DP Texan" However, I also like to buy Velveeta's queso cheese and add finely minced jalapenos to that for Spinach Madeleine

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  2. LOL, You're right, it's not a holiday without Spinach Madeline and it is like Crack...addictive! Mexican velveeta is located with all the other Velveeta cheeses (in boxes). It looks the same as the others but has "Mexican" on the logo. I'll post something on the Tips and Information page.

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  38. Do you know if the white/whole wheat bread can be substituted for a gluten free bread? I have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease and can't digest anything containing wheat/rye/barley? This is my first Thanksgiving having to go GF.

    1. Hello. My grandmother is a Celiac. An white gluten free bread works great for making her dressing. You can also look for gluten cornbread mix.

  39. Did you have to steal the image? Even though your recipe is totally different? http://maricucu.blogspot.com/2009/11/cornbread-dressing.html

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  41. So, is it ok to substitute self rising cornmeal ?
    Cutting out the baking soda & baking powder....

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  43. I have never been to your site before. I found you while looking for a good recipe for cornbread dressing for Thanksgiving. I am going to try yours as it looks good to me. I read the comments simply looking for comments about the recipe and only saw ONE. Why are people making all these remarks and criticisms of your page? Seriously I would love to see what people think of the cornbread recipe!

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  45. Love your recipes and especially the stories that go along with them...your cornbread dressing is very similar to mine...and it came from a Grandmother who was born in Alabama and raised a family in Texas. I was doing some comparisons on the internet for fun. Glad I stumbled on your site.

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