REALIZE Eats: Cornbread Stuffing

Our contributors dish out their favorite holiday traditions.

This week, in honor of the holiday season, we decided to share some of our favorite recipes with the REALIZE community. Check back each day for a peek inside the homes of some of our wonderful contributors. Today, Peggy Wolff shares a recipe for scrumptious cornbread stuffing, a staple at this food writer's table.

----

I am a cornivore. I love all things corn and especially cornbread made from whole kernel corn, such as the one in the recipe below. It’s odd—despite the simplicity of cornbread, a lot can go wrong: too coarse, too mushy, too dry, too crumbly, too sticky, too sweet.

I’m suggesting that you use the cornmeal from Arrowhead Mills or Hodgson Mill. They are both whole-grain cornmeals made from the whole corn kernel.  Arrowhead Mills is hammer-milled (pulverized with hammers); Hodgson Mill is stone-ground—the dried corn is ground between two stones. Either one will give you a wholesome and complex corn flavor, and be a crowd pleaser once you cook it up in a cast-iron skillet. Quaker, the most common brand of cornmeal at the grocery, is degerminated. The dried corn is steel-rolled, a process that removes most of the germ and husk. Since flavor and natural oils are in the germ,when you bake with Quaker you could get an unremarkable corn flavor and, because of its dryness, a pretty unsatisfying crunch.

Cornbread Stuffing

This is a two-part recipe, good for one 9 X 13-inch pan of stuffing. Make the corn bread on the evening before the holiday, and while it is baking, cut the French bread into 1-inch cubes. Let both breads dry out overnight on cookie sheets.

Yield: 10 servings

Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread

1-1/4 cups coarsely ground yellow cornmeal
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup whole milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 loaf crusty French bread, about 10 ounces

  1. Heat a cast-iron skillet in a 450-degree preheated oven; prepare the corn bread batter while the skillet is warming.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk in the milk, buttermilk, and beaten eggs.
  3. Whisk in the melted butter, saving one tablespoon for greasing the skillet later.
  4. Remove the hot skillet from the oven, lower the temperature to 375 F. and use the reserved tablespoon of butter to rub over the bottom and sides of the skillet.
  5. Pour the batter into the skillet and bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Using a toothpick, test in the center of the baked corn bread to make sure it is firm. The edges should be crispy.
  6. Cool completely. Cut into 1-inch cubes, spread them out on a baking sheet, and let them dry out overnight.
  7. Cut the loaf of crusty French bread into 1-inch cubes. Spread them out on a baking sheet and leave out overnight.

The following day…..make the stuffing

Ingredients

Cubed skillet corn bread and French bread, dried out from the night before
1 stick butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups celery, chopped
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon ground thyme
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
Scant teaspoon Kosher salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the stick of butter. Sauté the onion and celery until onions are almost translucent.
  3. Add basil, thyme, rosemary and parsley. Add 4 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir until combined.
  4. Place all of your dried bread cubes into a large bowl and mix them up. One ladle at a time, add the broth mixture onto the bread, tossing lightly. Gradually add more of the broth mixture, adding salt and tasting as you go. If the mixture is not moist enough, add more chicken broth and stir.
  5. Pack the mixture in a 9 X 13-inch baking dish and bake at 350 degrees F. until it’s golden brown on top, about 35-40 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman.

For more great American recipes and stories of their role in the lives of some great food writers, check out Peggy's latest book: Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie.