I called my mom on Skype last night to interview her about this recipe (beaming in all the way from Paris!). I was corrected within two seconds that no! It was not stuffing, but dressing! Pourquoi mommy dearest? Well! Because it is not cooked in the bird.
So there you have it folks:
Stuffing = Cooked in the Turkey!
Not to be confused with Dressing which is… you guessed it… not cooked in the bird!
The recipe has been passed down through three generations. My grandmother would actually make two 13×9 casserole dishes of stuffing. One for Thanksgiving, the other…. frozen for Christmas. ick! Not sure how I feel about that. Or was it a time-saving technique? hm.
My mom’s addition to the recipe: actual measurements! haha!
It’s actually unique in that it combines two
stuffing dressing traditions in the US. Dressing and Stuffing are based in bread. The North typically works with a white bread that has been dried out. The South.. the most southern thing there is- Cornbread! nom! My family’s recipe combines the two: half cornbread/half biscuits. hm but I guess biscuits are rather Southern as well. 😀 So perhaps a bit more Southern than Northern.
I called my mom about three weeks ago for the recipe, right before they were planning on flying to London. I wanted to make it for our Parisian Thanksgiving celebration that weekend. What I received was a recipe that was three pages long. In typical Molly-style, I started it the night before the get together at about 8pm. At about midnight, three glasses of wine in, the dressing was done and had a corner missing, strategically not pictured in the photo below. 😉
Top Tips from the Madre:
– Make the biscuits and cornbread the day before if possible or dry out the cornbread in the oven for about 30 minutes at 200 degrees after it has cooled.
– Don’t overcook the onions and celery! Mushy.. onions… stuffing..
– The recipe is made with a dryer cornbread. Most cornbread is sweet and contains quite a bit of liquid which doesn’t lend itself to dressing.
– Toasting the sage ups the flavor. To do this pick the leaves off fresh branches of sage. Lay on a parchment lined baking sheet in one layer. Toast in the oven for 20-40 minutes at 200 degrees until leaves are completely dried out.
– Adding dried cranberries is a dynamite idea.
– We usually half the recipe! The full recipe makes enough servings for 12 people.
Tips for Making Dressing/Stuffing in France:
– Sage is hard to find- dried or fresh! Ask at the market. You might just find some hidden. 🙂 I actually did the whole recipe just using the sage sausage and it turned out just fine!
– Marks & Spencer’s has sage sausage which is perfect for this recipe.
– Cornmeal is also difficult to find. You can substitute with polenta- it’s just a bit grainier. Here’s a Polenta Cornbread Recipe.
– For buttermilk, use lait fermente found at the supermarket or add some lemon juice to regular milk and let it sit for 5 minutes before using.
– Use Type 55 flour. If using other types, add just a bit more to make up for the difference in weight.
The Wilkinson Family Dressing Recipe:
3 1/2 cups cornbread, dried out and broken into medium sized pieces (read notes above)
6 cups of biscuits, cooked then broken into medium sized pieces
4-8 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 cups celery, finely chopped
1 1/2 – 2 cups yellow onion, chopped
1/2 bunch of parsley, chopped
3/4 lb. sausage, sage flavored if available, removed from casings
3 eggs beaten
About 4 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon dried sage
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
Make the cornbread, one 8×8 batch (see below for recipe). Make double the biscuit recipe. Allow the cornbread to dry out overnight or see note above about drying it in the oven. Break the cornbread and biscuits into medium sized pieces and measure the appropriate amount into a large bowl.
Saute the sausage breaking it into pieces. Drain on paper towels and set aside. (Try not to eat too much haha!)
In a separate skillet, melt about 5 tablespoons of butter and saute the onions, celery, salt, and pepper about 10-15 minutes until tender and translucent but not brown. Turn off the heat and stir in the dried sage. Let cool.
Add the sausage and onions/celery to the bowl containing the biscuits and cornbread. Add parsley and toss together gently.
Then add the beaten eggs, again tossing gently. Then the chicken broth starting with 3 cups and 3 tablespoons of melted butter. Stir together adding more chicken broth if necessary. The dressing should be moist but not wet and runny (very important).
Spoon into a large (13×9”) lightly greased pan. Cover with foil and bake at 325 for 40 minutes. Increase the heat to 425 and remove foil cooking another 5-10 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Serve with gravy.
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup well shaken buttermilk
2 large eggs
1/2 stick (4 tbl) butter, melted and cooled
1/2 tsp finely chopped sage
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and butter an 8×8 pan.
Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients.
Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir together. Pour into the prepared dish and bake until golden, about 25 minutes.
For the stuffing, make the night before, or once cool, break into pieces and dry out in the oven at 200 degrees for about 30 minutes.
Makes about 7 cups of coarsely crumbled cornbread.
Bird-Head Buttermilk Biscuits
Recipe from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook.
Makes about 16 2-inch biscuits (make 2 batches if you are making the full recipe of dressing)
2 1/4 cups cake flour or 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons shortening (Crisco), cut into pieces
3/4 cup whole or lowfat buttermilk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, salt). Cut in the butter and shortening using your hands or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few pea sized pieces.
Stir in the buttermilk until the dough just comes together. Turn out onto a floured surface and pat or roll into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Now we’re going to fold it into thirds to create those delicious layers.
Fold the rightmost third into the center and then the leftmost third over top like a wallet. Turn the dough a quarter turn and pat it out into a rectangle like you did before. Repeat these folds one more time then pat out once again.
Use a 2 inch biscuit cutter, or a knife to cut biscuits. Place about 1 1/2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet and bake about 15-20 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy this slice of heaven with lots of gravy. 🙂