Born and Bred with Cornbread

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Born and Bred with Cornbread

By Paula Deen

Years ago, my Grandmother Paul taught me the secret to the best cornbread stuffing you can imagine.  I can’t help but think of her whenever I make the recipe, elbow deep in the biggest bowl of stale bread and crushed crackers that you’ve ever seen.  Truth is, you can’t tell a dime’s worth of difference between our stuffing.  It’s been the same for generations.  My family has come to expect it, just like I came to expect it when I was a little girl.


There truly are many kinds of different stuffing, but I’m very dedicated to the one I’ve been making for over 40 years.  If there’s any variation at all, it’s that I don’t actually stuff the bird like I remember my grandmother doing.  (Every good Southerner still calls it “stuffing” as opposed to “dressing.”)  The only time I’ll cook mine in a bird is if I’m cooking a hen.  She’s a tough ol’ bird, y’all, so you cook it totally different than you would a turkey or a chicken.  You boil the hell out of it, stuff it and bake it in the oven.


But the old timey stuffing I make does not play second fiddle to anything—not even the turkey.  In fact, she’s the best rival around.  You sauté some fresh-cut onions, celery and peppers in a stick of butter, toss that with the breads and soak it with stock and you’ll see what I’m talking about.  I do add some seasoning such as pepper and dried age, but I’m careful not to overpower the dish.  Just make sure you don’t underestimate the size of your mixing bowl because stuffing can really grow on you.  And if you remember one thing about my cornbread stuffing, let it be that you cannot make it from a sweet cornbread.  Look at the box.  If sugar is an ingredient, you have the wrong stuff.  Use that, and it’ll ruin the dressing.


Y’all, I don’t eat this way everyday, but I do give myself permission to eat my favorite foods on the holidays.  Part of my obsession is the wonderful flavors; the other part is the memories that celebration foods trigger—like the year after my daddy died, I remember my mother cookin’ the best stuffing of her life.  I ate and ate and ate until I was sick.  Then when momma past away, I vowed to make a meal she would be proud of.  I spent most of the afternoon on the phone with my Aunt Peggy trying to make sure I was doing everything little thing right.  That went on for awhile until my Uncle George finally lost patience and hollered, “If you don’t get off that damn phone, I’m not ever gonna get my meal!”


But the point isn’t just that my family’s cornbread stuffing is arguably the best around.  It’s about that one special dish that defines the holidays for you and your family—the recipe that warms our heart, fills our belly and ultimately outlasts each and every one of us.


Southern Cornbread Dressing

Cornbread, recipe follows
7 slices oven-dried white bread
1 sleeve crackers (recommended: Saltine)
8 tablespoons butter
2 cups chopped celery
1 large onion, chopped
7 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sage, optional
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning, optional
5 eggs, beaten

1 cup self-rising cornmeal
1/2 cup self-rising flour
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine crumbled cornbread, dried white bread slices, and saltines; set aside.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the celery and onion and cook until transparent, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Pour the vegetable mixture over cornbread mixture. Add the stock, mix well, taste, and add salt, pepper to taste, sage, and poultry seasoning. Add beaten eggs and mix well. Pour mixture into a greased pan and bake until dressing is cooked through, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Pour batter into a greased shallow baking dish. Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.


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Reader Comments:


Hi Paula! My daddy always made cornbread dressing similar to yours except he added a little bit of Kitchen Bouquet to it to take away that pale color. Also the dressing was not chunky...more finely crumbled cornbread. My Daddy has been gone now for 23 years and I still make his dressing every Holiday. He was a true Georgia boy from Madison.

By Karen Lamb on August 13, 2014


I loved watching cook show and love your food you. Fix love and mess you Paula deen

By helen. maddy on February 17, 2014


Love your cornbread

By sharon hofmann on November 28, 2013


I have never been a stuffing fan, but I came across this recipe a number of years back. It is so delicious!!! We make this every thanksgiving. I won't eat any other stuffing but Paula's Cornbread stuffing!!!

By Michelle Hughes on November 25, 2013


Hello there Lady..was looking at your chicken casserole looked really good but how about making it from scratch..sure you can add all those soups, but, come on from scratch glad we hopefully will be seeing you again. I really enjoyed your shows..and P.S. you are looking really sassy..good for you and family..

By Rosie Papesh on October 20, 2013


Glad you are back I'm ready for veggie chili

By Bonnie on October 14, 2013


Love making ur receipes.

By Sandi Goldberg on January 21, 2013


This recipe sounds similar to what my mother has made every thanksgiving. It is a recipe my mother’s first husband’s family created. This recipe doesn’t use eggs; he was good at creating recipes. This may sound strange but only difference is: his recipe has cream of chicken and a lot less broth (also he replaced the chicken broth with turkey broth) and no eggs.

By Tracy on November 30, 2012


Paula, I made this stuffing for Thanksgiving and it was the best. I will never try another recipe, but this one. I am making it for some special friends for Christmas and handing down this recipe to my grandaughter. Of course, you know the giblet gravy finishes it off. Yum!!Can't wait to make it again. By the way I am a Hey Y'all girl too!!!

By Betty Gissendaner on November 25, 2012


I rate yours a 10 very much as my mother taught me. So gooood.

By Jane Hunter, on November 24, 2012


Cornbread stuffing is the main dish in our family. I wished I had a recipe for gingerbread.

By denise on November 23, 2012


Paula, that is the same recipe that I have used for years. Just like my mamaw did when she was alive. My family would be disappointed if I ever changed or added any ingredient.Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

By Karen on November 20, 2012


Great recipe. I'll have to remember to beat the eggs and add them last. I always taste mine as I mix to make sure it has the right amount of sage. The right amount is so critical. I grew up using Cornbread and Biscuits (buttermilk in both) for my dressing. Now I like to add fresh sage from my herb garden. I learned how to make mine from my Mother who taught me how to cook the way her Mother did. Very hands on but, with the freedom to be adventurous and make mistakes. Stuffing was a classic example. The first time I made it I was preparing Christmas Dinner for my future In-Laws. We had invited them for the parent meet and greet. Mom gave me a recipe as a guide, some helpful tips, and left me to it. I used a mini food processor to "chop" the celery and onions. Well I minced them. My dressing was an interesting shade of green but, tasted wonderful. My husband teases me about it every year and my kids tell me they like mine the best. My 5 year old still talks about meeting you when she was 3 and loves Southern cooking. I'm teaching both my kids and your cookbooks are invaluable. I know that when I send them off into the world I'll give them your Southern Cooking Bible as well as the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook also known as "the plaid one".

By Cari Russom on November 20, 2012


That is so like our recipe for dressing and yes we say dressing in Mississippi. The only thing is we don't us crackers in our family recipe and we add about 3 boiled eggs chopped up along with the raw eggs. We enjoy watching your shows and hope to visit Savannah some day.

By Judy on November 20, 2012


I don't put eggs in my cornbread or dressing

By Linda Merck on November 20, 2012


In your introduction to the cornbread dressing you said sauté , onions, celery and peppers in butter. Your recipe list does not call for peppers. Just celery and onion. Do you put bell pepper in your dressing? Enjoy your recipes. Hope you have cut back on saying y'all. Enough!

By Bettie Bryant on November 20, 2012

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