Small Gathering with Big Taste: Dot's Cornbread and Rice Dressing

We will have a "small Thanksgiving" this year but with a "big menu."  Our Son-in-law is an expert with his Big Green Egg cooker and he graciously offered to smoke a turkey for us.  The turkey will be brined all day and if  it's anything like the one he cooked last year, will be juicy and delicious.  Our daughter is cooking sweet potatoes, green beans, cheesecake and pumpkin pie.   I am making the cornbread dressing , fresh fruit salad and I baked a cake.  We'll also have the cranberry sauce (the good kind from a can!) and buttered rolls.  

I have been asked several times to share my cornbread dressing recipe.  For 52 years I have made this recipe for celebratory meals including Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Every now and then there is a request for something different and on occasion a guest has brought another type of recipe, however, this is my favorite.  It's based on a handed down recipe from my Mom.  It's not a stuffing, but rather a light mixture that can be served as a side dish and topped with gravy.  

I've simplified the recipe over the years to decrease the time investment, but still maintain the taste.  Whereas my Mom would retrieve the giblets from the uncooked turkey, boil and chop them, I use Savoie's Dressing Mix.  This mixture of "giblets" can be found in the frozen food section of the grocery store and is quite common in the south.  I also use Swanson's Chicken Broth reduced sodium variety.  Those two convenience products do not detract from the overall quality of the recipe and certainly speed up the preparation.  I usually prepare the dressing the day before and bake it before serving.

Dot's Cornbread and Rice Dressing

First you bake the Cornbread:

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup corn meal

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

2 Tablespoons cooking oil (or melted butter)

1 egg

Combine dry ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl.  Stir in liquid ingredients and pour into a preheated 7 inch cast iron skillet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes.

Other ingredients for the dressing: 

1 pint Savoie's Dressing Mix

about 1 cup chopped yellow sweet onion

about 1 cup chopped bell pepper

1 Tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 cup chopped parsley (or 1 Tablespoon parsley flakes)

Cooked rice (1/2 cup raw)

2 cups chicken broth

2 eggs

A couple of dashes of sage, non salted seasoning mix, smoked paprika, salt and pepper (all to taste)

In a large skillet, cook down the dressing mix until most of the liquid has been evaporated.  Add the chopped vegetables and sauté' until tender.  It should look like this photo when ready. 

Crumble the cornbread into a very large bowl and add the remaining ingredients stirring well to combine. I usually use two eggs.  

 Pour the mixture into a greased 2 quart baking dish.  Can be covered with aluminum foil and refrigerated at this point.  Bake covered in a preheated  350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  Remove foil, sprinkle with paprika and continue baking for about 15 more minutes.  The top will be "crusty".  May add more broth if it seems dry.  Be sure to have some gravy and cranberry sauce to go with it!  The photo is unbaked...I'll bake it before the meal.

Couldn't resist adding this picture for some 2020 Quarantine Cheer!  My daughter and her girls baked a fresh apple cake and shared it with us yesterday!  The cake was delicious, but the presentation was priceless and treasured.  Happy Thanksgiving!  

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