November 16, 2016

brown butter and sage dressing

I admit I was late to the game on making dressing because I was entirely intimidated by it. I may not have made my first pan of dressing until I was in my mid to late 30s. Sam's grandmother had set the bar pretty high; so high that one year she put Stove Top on the table instead of homemade dressing, and Sam and his brothers had. a. fit. God love her. She was probably in her 70s when she finally took a shortcut. But the boys let her know all about it! HA! She was a fireball and could take it. Plus somewhere in the harassment over short-cut-dressing was a compliment that her homemade dressing was delicious and had become something looked-forward-to.

Thus, I was late to the game giving it a shot. And y'all, it's not hard at all! It's all about starting with good cornbread, having good seasonings, and getting it the consistency you like! And my personal spin on traditional baked dressing is browning some butter with a little sage and pouring it over the top just before the dressing is finished baking. Rich, flavorful tastes of the season!

We fall under the camp of baked dressing. A little bit dried out on top and still a little bit yummy and mushy and tender underneath. Some choose crockpots for a more 'wet' dressing. But this is our way. And it's a pretty good recipe that fills some pretty big shoes around here.

Watch the episode HERE where I make this recipe on my cooking show! Extra tips and instructions and probably silliness if I had to guess. Happy Holidays! 

Makes one 9x13 casserole

¼ cup unsalted butter
1 ½ cup flour
1 cup plus 2 Tbs yellow cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs baking powder
⅛ cup sugar
1 ½ cup buttermilk
2 large eggs

3 chicken breasts, boiled or baked and torn/shredded into bits*
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 slices white sandwich bread, torn into 1-2” pieces
4 cups chicken stock
2 large eggs
2 tsp dried sage
1 scant tsp salt
1 scant tsp pepper
¼ cup unsalted butter
5-6 fresh sage leaves, chopped

-for the cornbread-
Preheat a 9-10” cast iron skillet in a 400F oven with ¼ cup butter. Meanwhile stir together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Then whisk together buttermilk and eggs in a separate bowl. Stir wet into the dry. The mixture will be thick. Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven when the butter is melted. Pour the hot butter into the cornmeal mixture; stir to combine. Spread in the hot skillet and bake for 30-31 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool; then crumble. Can be made a day or two ahead and stored in an airtight bag or container.
In a saucepan, saute celery and onion in butter until tender. In a large bowl, break up cornbread, and add in torn white bread, sauteed celery and onions. In another bowl, whisk together stock and eggs. Pour into the dry ingredients. Stir to combine. Season with sage, salt and pepper. Stir in torn chicken. Butter a 9x13 dish or casserole. Pour mixture into a dish. Bake in a 400F oven for 30-35 minutes.

With about 10 minutes left before the dish is finished baking, put ¼ cup butter and chopped sage leaves in a small light-colored or stainless saucepan. (Light colored is important so you can watch the butter brown!) Over medium heat, cook just until the butter begins to brown; do not burn it! Browned bits will form in the bottom of the pan. Carefully pour over all of the golden butter and sage leaves over the hot chicken and dressing when it comes out of the oven, being careful not to pour out the browned sediment in the bottom of the pan. Discard the browned sediment. Return the pan back to the oven for only about 3-5 more minutes. Serve dressing warm and yummy!

*This particular recipe is one I serve for a one-dish, weeknight meal with chicken baked in the dressing. If you're serving this dressing beside a holiday ham or turkey, just remove the chicken and make the dressing recipe as is! But if you're like my husband, he wants chicken and dressing any night that I can get it on the table. Even in March.