I have already mentioned my feelings about Momee’s cornbread dressing but let me say this again…as far I am concerned this is the BEST cornbread dressing recipe in the world. The woman who gave me the recipe was beyond the best. Momee was my mom’s mom. Her name was Beulah Mae and she was beautiful and funny and kind and so many things all rolled into one. I am so blessed to have called her my grandmother and know that part of her lives on in me and in my kids. She was a diva before I ever heard anyone called a diva. She was the hardest working woman I ever knew and always knew how to look on the bright side in any situation. She passed away in 2002 and I still miss her every day. But she wouldn’t like me dwelling on her absence and would fuss at me for even mentioning that, so let me stay focused. She believed in looking ahead you, not behind. I would like to believe she is the one who ingrained that in me. She was a strong, feisty spirit who lives on through my sisters and I, my cousins, their kiddos, my kiddos, my nieces and nephews, and every single time I make this most delicious cornbread dressing, something I know she would really like. I actually had the foresight to ask her to write down her recipe many years ago and I have a framed copy hanging in my kitchen. She is never very far from me. When I am running around the kitchen like a chicken with its head cut off, I can so hear her whispering to me “ma petite (which sounded like mop tit and my sisters and I thought that was what she was saying for years until she corrected us lol!) calm down. Stand up straight my baby. Smile. You’ll get this all done. Take your time baby.” That thought makes me tear up and smile at the same time. So if you are looking for a wonderful cornbread dressing to make this Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years (we had had it at all 3…thank God) give this one a try. Momee would like that.
Such a beautiful lady…inside and out…
Momee’s Cornbread Dressing
1/2 stick of butter
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 boxes of corn muffin mix
1 onion, diced
3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 large bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 bundle of green onions (I say at least 5 or 6) chopped, green parts only *
salt and pepper to taste
sage, to taste
3 or 4 boiled eggs, sliced
1 pack of turkey wings (I usually have the best luck finding these at Kroger, in the frozen meat section)
Make up your corn muffin mix according to directions. So to prepare three boxes, just add 3 of whatever 1 box calls for. Got it? Now, I am sure I don’t have to specify which kind of corn muffin mix I use…but just in case…Jiffy my friends. I am not even sure there is any other kind. Bake your cornbread in a prepared 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 until done. Set it aside. (I like to do this at least the night before so that the cornbread can stale a bit before I put the dressing together.)
Fill a stock pot halfway full with water. Add about 3 tsp. salt to the water. Add your turkey wings and bring to a boil. Boil until very tender and the turkey meat just falls off the bone. Remove the turkey wings from the water and put them on a plate.* *Do NOT Discard the stock!!! Set aside the wings and let them cool. When they are cool enough to handle, take all the meat off of the bone. Discard the bones.
** SAVE the water. Do NOT drain. This is your stock for the dressing or will be when we are done with it! Keep the stock at a low simmer until you need it. Just put the stockpot on a back burner and set the heat to low and just let it simmer away. We will come back to that.
In a skillet, melt butter and then saute the celery, bell pepper, onion, green onions and garlic over medium heat until “wilted” (that is a Beulah Mae term..this means until tender). Add a pinch or two of kosher salt and a sprinkle of black pepper. You can also add a little bit of Tony’s at this point too. *my best friend, Lolly, taught me to cut the green onions by using a pair of kitchen shears. Her mother in law, Mrs. Fern, taught her this trick and she passed it on to me. I am so grateful. That trick has made things much easier as green onions can be hard to cut with a knife. Hope that helps!!
To your simmering stock, add kosher salt and pepper to taste. You want it to have a good flavor to it, but not too salty. I will tell you what I do. I add a tablespoon of turkey bouillon base to this stock to give a deep flavor. It normally comes out perfectly. My dear friend, Lisa, turned me on to bouillon base a few years ago for my gravy making, and I have never looked back. It can usually be found near the cans and boxes of broth, and other soups on the very top shelf. It is in a short wide glass jar and is some “good stuff” as Lisa is fond of saying. Anyway, whisk in tablespoon of this base to your simmering broth. You may want to use a little more, depending on your family’s tastes. It is definitely optional, but you won’t regret it.
Now, you should have some cooked cornbread, sauteed veggies, some stock and some turkey meat. Ya’ll ready? Ok…now I take my big ole silver bowl and I crumble the cornbread into the bowl. Now, add your sauteed veggies to this. Now, add your turkey meat. Ok, get your hands in this bowl, and mix it all up really well. That’s it! You’ve got it!! Beulah would be so proud!! Ok, now, little by little you are going to ladle some of your stock into the cornbread mixture. Ladle until this is the consistency of cream of wheat. It is not too moist, but not too dry. Use your judgement. You just want to make sure that it does not dry out when it cooks. Now, season with rubbed sage to taste. I really cannot tell ya’ll how much sage I use. When I make my dressing in a few days, I will try to update this with an approximate amount. I would definitely say at least 1 1/2 tablespoons of the stuff. What makes this dressing unique is the sweetness of the corn muffin mixed combined with the savoriness of the sage so don’t hold back, unless you dislike sage…in that case, you may not like this. 🙂 Once you are satisfied with the moistness and savoriness of your dressing, add this mixture/concoction to your prepared 9 x 13 pan that you prepared by spraying with cooking spray or rubbed butter all over. Now lay your boiled egg slices all over the top of your dressing. I rather it with the eggs. I am not sure where this came from or if it is a Southern thing, but I love boiled eggs on top of my dressing. Some of my cajun mama facebook friends and I had a discussion about this and it seemed pretty common to add boiled eggs to your dressing. Of course, if this is not your thing, just omit this step. Also, if you find the adding boiled eggs to your dressing odd please feel free to leave me a comment. I would like to hear from you.
Ok, now you cover your pan of dressing with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 35-40 minutes. It may take about 50 minutes or so, depending on your oven. I would definitely check it after 30 minutes or so. Once the dressing is almost done enough, you can uncover it so it gets nicely browned. Cook it about 5-10 minutes uncovered then remove from oven and let cool.
Get ready to slap hands and “tasting spoons” away from the pan. My cousin Robin and I would sneak as many bites as we could before Momee noticed and shooed us out of the kitchen. Momee’s kitchen on Thanksgiving morning was warm, full of love, and smelled like cornbread, turkey and sage. Some of my best memories were made in there. Every Thanksgiving just about, Robin and I manage to text each other and say “hey making Momee’s dressing and thinking about you.” I think Momee would love that. No, I know she would. I hope your kitchen is full of warmth, good smells, and lots of love on Thanksgiving morning. May you have many blessings to count and many memories to be shared and made. Love from Cajun mama’s kitchen to yours. ~AMB
I cherish this almost more than I do the picture above. It is like she is right here with me.