One of my fondest memories of the time I spent in elementary school in Sunray, Texas, was belonging to 4-H. Well actually, I have many favorites: the great ranch-style home we lived in *with a carpeted garage*; walking home from school with friends; piano lessons; the summer advancement group learning cake decorating, veterinary skills, computer lessons; going to rodeos; riding my bicycle everywhere; my horse obsession and collection of Breyer horses; my sweet dachshund Winnie; my sweet 5th grade boyfriend Steve. Sunray was the stereotypical small Texas town with one restaurant: Dairy Queen. And it seemed, anyway, pretty perfect.
For me, the best part of 4-H was cooking. I remember making ‘bread in a bag‘ and some sweets, and in a binder recipe book I have from then, there’s a handwritten recipe that we surely got from friends for dressing — this can be chicken dressing or turkey dressing. But it’s so good that I don’t save it for holidays, I make it whenever. If you’re someone who enjoys a recipe that’s exact — skip this one for now; this one’s more of a “add more or less if you like” recipe.
First, I make a pan of cornbread in a cast iron skillet. I like this Dixie Lily cornmeal recipe but I’ve oftentimes just used the buttermilk (and no sugar) recipe on the back of whatever bag of cornmeal I have. Sometimes I’m using a local-ish grocery store brand like the one above; sometimes I’ve been to a mill like McEwen & Sons and use their recipe. The recipe is always super similar.
Allow it to cook, break it up.
Ingredients for the dressing:
2c celery, chopped
2c onions, diced
skillet of cornbread, broken up
4 cups or so of chicken or turkey, shredded
hot broth — chicken or turkey (simply made with bouillon and water), likely will turn out to be between 4-6 cups, until mixture is wet but not soup
2tbsp sage (+ or -, what you’re in the mood for)
2tbsp poultry seasoning (+ or -, what you’re in the mood for)
salt & pepper (depends a lot on the amount of sage and poultry seasoning above)
1tbsp or so butter to sauté celery & onions
optional: four or five hardboiled eggs, chopped
In a skillet, sauté celery and onion in a little butter until tender
Add remaining ingredients on low — remember to consider that much of this is by look and taste — feel free to add more sage, poultry seasoning, (garlic sound good? would be fab.), enough hot broth to make to make it nice and wet but not at all soupy
Stir together all ingredients, pour in buttered 13×9 pan, bake at 350* for :45 – 1 hour