Bob, our son Cole and I love our holiday traditions. We spend Thanksgiving at the beach in Alabama where it's usually just the three of us; Christmas at home in Texas with the rest of the family. But, wherever we are, you can count on lunch at 1 p.m. starring turkey and dressing.
Since he's all about the main event, Bob takes charge of the turkey, cooking it slow and easy until we have a wonderfully moist and flavorful bird. Meanwhile, I focus on dressing, sides and desserts. I like serving a variety of vegetables and sweets so everyone can point to a favorite. Only problem is, I have to do quite a dance popping things in and out of the oven since space is limited.
That's why I was thrilled to discover this delicious dressing a few years ago. You can bake the cornbread one or two days ahead of time. Then cook this comforting creation in a large crockpot leaving the oven free for scalloped potatoes, spinach casserole, sweet potatoes and other goodies.
I made it for our doctor and long-time friends Mike and Terri Jutras last year, and now it's a must on their holiday table as well. In fact, one of the reasons I'm posting about it now is so Terri, who is like a sister to me, can always find the recipe whether she's at home in Colleywood or with her oldest daughter Stephanie and those adorable grandkiddos in Birmingham.
Based on an idea from Southern Living, this sensational side is super simple. Once you make your cornbread, you just crumble it and stir in stuffing mix, cream of chicken soup, chicken broth, onion, celery, eggs and spices. Then pour it into a slow cooker, dot with butter and cook on low. You don't have to precook the vegetables to make sure they're tender; the slow cooker handles everything.
About 4 hours later, you can treat guests to an incredibly moist-but-firm dressing accented by a yummy, lightly browned crust on the bottom and sides ... just the way we Texans like it.
Note: For even more flavor, cook your turkey before starting the dressing and use some of the juices from the baked bird in place of some of the chicken broth below.
Heat oven as directed on cornbread and muffin mix.
Place 1 teaspoon bacon grease in each of two, 8-inch ovenproof skillets. Put the skillets in the oven 7-8 minutes or until bacon grease is melted and hot.
Prepare cornbread and muffin mix as directed on package. Pour into hot skillets and bake as package instructs. This can be done 1 or 2 days in advance.
Crumble cornbread to equal 4 1/2 cups. Freeze any leftovers for another use.
Combine the 4 1/2 cups cornbread crumbs, stuffing mix, cream of chicken soup, chicken broth, onion, celery, eggs, rubbed sage, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
Spray a 5 ½- or 6-quart crockpot with a cooking spray such as Pam. Put cornbread mixture in the crockpot and dab with butter.
Cover and cook on low 4 hours or until bottom and sides are browned and mixture is set.
Note: If you are expecting 6 - 8 guests, just half the recipe.
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