My mother-in-law, Millie, raised her family on classic Southern cooking. When she died in 1998, I inherited her wedding dress, her cast iron skillet and a steno pad of recipes my husband grew up with. Some of these have become our own children’s favorites. Others, I’ve never gotten around to making, so I’ve decided to blog my way through them all, building a digital record of her recipe pad. A printable recipe link can be found at the bottom of this post, with her ingredients and directions transcribed exactly as written. My adaptations are in brackets. Feel free to repin, test, tweak, and share. Millie would be pleased.
If our family had an official dish, chicken cornbread dressing would be it. It’s a recipe that was handed down to Patrick’s mother, Millie, from her mother, Dorothea Geneva Elrod Holman, and there’s no telling how long it’s been around. He remembers it as “Grandma Turley’s dressing,” which would be after his great-grandmother Nellie May. I wrote about it in my book:
On Thanksgiving eve, I listen to her son reading aloud to his son the steps written in his mother’s lovely hand. Amid the egg cracking and the cornbread crumbling, he tells stories about Thanksgivings past, and explains the difference between cornbread dressing and bread stuffing. True religion.
“You were born in the South, son. Don’t ever forget that.” He says it loud enough to be sure I can hear, and when I look up, I can see the teasing gleam in his eyes, daring me to make something of it.
The recipe as it is recorded in my mother-in-law’s steno pad is a little different than the version Patrick remembers growing up with, and the one our kids will remember making with him. The steno pad version calls for a broth made with turkey giblets, and will be pretty familiar to most Southerners. Ours is unique in that it includes the meat from a whole stewed chicken. It’s really more of an entree than a side dish. Patrick would go so far as to say that the turkey is merely a side to the dressing. Everything else on the table is negotiable, but it’s not Thanksgiving in our home without Millie’s Chicken Cornbread Dressing.
- 2 skillets of cornbread (recipe below)
- (8 slices white bread)
- (1 whole chicken)
- 1 stick butter
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 c. chopped celery (Millie's notes say "white" and "use best")
- 1 dozen raw eggs
- 1.5 tsp poultry seasoning
- (Simmer one cut up or whole chicken in salted water for broth. Strain broth and skin and debone chicken. Add 1 stick butter to hot broth.)
- Have broth hot. Break up hot corn bread, add about 4-6 cups broth and mix well (in a large pot or bowl), add onion and celery mixture, 1 dozen raw eggs and 1 (&1/2) tsp poultry seasoning - salt if needed by taste. (Stir in deboned & skinned chicken. Toast up to 8 slices bread extra dry and break up into mixture. The mixture should be slightly soupy.) If not soupy enough, boil water and add. Bake (in two 9 X 13 dishes or pans) at 400 for one to one and a half hours (until set).
- 2 c stone ground cornmeal
- 2 c buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- 1 t soda
- 1 t salt
- 1/4 c olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400. Pour oil in skillet and heat in oven until sizzling. Add hot oil to cornbread batter, then return to pan and bake 25 minutes.