I Know Whom I Have Believed...

Friday, December 3, 2010

The 3rd Day of Christmas – Perfection in a Pan


with Carrie @ Thoughts, Ponderings, Musings

During my childhood on Christmas morning, after the gifts were opened, examined, and then delegated to my room, the next item on the Christmas Day agenda was the Christmas meal...

Generally, a fresh ham had been slowly baking all night and the whole house smelled like a pork paradise. Most sides and sweets had already been prepared.

My fork was ready for two things...

My Little Grandmother’s cornbread dressing and her red velvet cake...


Like many great Southern cooks, Grandmother made this by sight and taste...not by exact measurements. The large baking pan she used now blesses my kitchen and I always hope I make her proud when I prepare dressing for the family.


This recipe has been adjusted for a 9” x 13” baking pan. The finished product has been known to make grown men weep and delicate southern ladies faint:

1 9-10” skillet of cornbread, cooled and crumbled

4-5 biscuits, cooled and crumbled

half a dozen soda crackers

4-5 eggs, beaten

1-2 onions, chopped, cooked in butter

2-3 stalks of celery, chopped and cooked in butter (adjust the amount according to your personal taste...my DH does not like celery chunks, so I substitute celery seed)

salt and pepper

poultry seasoning – start out with a couple of teaspoons and then add more to taste

sage – start out with 1 teaspoon and add more to taste

a good, rich stock – chicken or turkey, make sure it is hot and flavorful...the amount varies according to the dryness of the bread used, but plan on a quart or two...

Mix everything but the stock in a large bowl. Add stock a few cups at a time, and stir well. The final consistency should be soupy - not dry.

Take out your testing spoons and let the taste test begin. Yes, I know there are raw eggs in it, so you may use an egg substitute if you wish...or add the eggs at the very last after all the seasoning is done.

Add more seasonings as your taster dictates...the flavors intensify after cooking, so if the pre-baked product is not quite as flavorful as you would like, take heart that the finished dish will be perfect.

Bake at 350 for about an hour or until brown and crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.

The only modifications I have done with Grandmother’s recipe is to add a teaspoon or so of dried rosemary leaves, crumbled, and sometimes I add some parsley.

A lesson in not messing with perfection was learned the hard way one Christmas...

I read a magazine tip about adding yellow food coloring to your dressing to make it “buttery looking”...all it did to mine was turn it a pale green!

What is your favorite Christmas meal side?

8 thoughts:

Carrie said...

Mmmm! That sounds good. I've never made homemade dressing before. It's neat that you can use her pan now.
My favorite side dish for Christmas is cheese balls! Yeah, not really a side dish, but I love all varieties of homemade cheese balls!

melanie said...

This really brought memories back to my mind. I remember that same dressing. Keep writing! You are so gifted!

Karin said...

So interesting to read about traditional family recipes. That a great pan for such a perfect dish! Christmas dinner at our house was always like a Sunday family meal, but just a little more elaborate. The fresh ham baking all night is making me hungry!

Dad said...

What great memories. Mother used that pan for as long as I can remember. God has really blessed you with the talent to use words.

Peggy said...

Ohhh my goodness...yummy lovin'

Blessings Karen...this one even gave me a chuckle... now I know I should not laugh at you or anyone about dye... or cooking for that matter or any error especially when it was given by a magazine tip...yet I know that without a doubt this southern tradition (with the measurements added in to share) definitely blesses Christmas at your home or anyone's home with such awesome reactions! I also know that your precious grandmother is so pleased to know that you figured this out and can continue this tradition of this delicacy to honor her and keep Southern cornbread warming the hearts and hearths of a loving family for years to come.

I wonder if KFC biscuits would work... naw no chance in me making this here, no oven just microwave!
Thanks for sharing this though...

Making me hungry now for some real home cooking and Grandma loving.
You are a granddaughter that every
gramma would treasure being blessed with, one that honors and passes on traditions! So that means dear DIL... you need to learn this one.

:0) I see the happy JOY of a great prepared feast of the King! And my how pleased He and your grandma are with the gifts you share...love your writing and the memories that you are keeping alive and the beautiful aura that flows from the smells(words)...the fragrance of Christ! I'm sure He loves good Southern cooking or baking too!

Love and peace,

Sharon said...

OK, Karen - as a rule, I don't eat anything green except vegetables, with a slight concession to limes and kiwis. However, this recipe sounds SO DELICIOUS that I think I would eat your dressing even if it was purple!!

Thanks for sharing it.

And the precious little hints about what a wonderful grandmother you had!


Sandy said...

Oh, this sounds so good I'll have
to make it. I have so many foods
that are favorites it's hard to
choose. I do love dressing, but
I guess I'd have to say it would
be fresh green beans cooked the
southern way--four hours on the
stove with a little olive oil,
chicken stock, onion powder and
sea salt.

Kim@stuffcould.... said...

Those Grandmother memories, dressing yes! I guess Cheese balls are great...not from Grandmother?

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