I loved my mom and dad's dressings growing up. Mom would make our traditional cornbread based dressing and dad would like to change it up by adding oysters to his batch. I liked both.
Once I left home for college then living on my own, I didn't make or have dressing unless I went home. Years later at my sister's house she was making a big batch of Mom's dressing and I paid close attention. I've been making mine ever since. As with so many recipes it's easy to make them your own. This is pretty much the way we had it growing up, except for the "other" bread used in conjunction with the cornbread.
The cornbread....I don't make the cornbread from scratch the way I do for, say, ham hock and beans. I whip up a couple packages of Martha White's Yellow Cornbread Mix. There are others on the market such as Corn-Kits & Pioneer but one that I will not use for dressing is Jiffy. It's much too sweet for my taste.
Using a packaged mix makes things a little simpler; especially when there are so many other things going on in the kitchen during Thanksgiving and Christmas day.
I bake mine in an 8 x 8 Pyrex pan. Once the corn bread is baked and cooled in the pan crumble it up. Two packages make about 8 cups crumbled cornbread. Whatever other bread you use for your dressing, you want to keep it at a ratio of 2 parts cornbread to 1 part other.
So, for the other bread choices to add to the dressing....I have used plain white sandwich bread (my favorite) such as Rainbow or, here in Texas, Mrs. Baird's. I have also had great luck with baking up a batch of canned biscuits. Enter Lovey into my life and he prefers a 'healthier' choice like La Madeleine Country Wheat. Ssshhh, don't tell him that this will not make his dressing 'healthy'. But, I aim to please my man so I now use the country wheat. In this recipe I'll use about 4 cups bread. Tear it up by hand or cube using a knife.
Once the breads are combine I sauté onion and celery in a couple sticks of butter. Yes, I said a couple of sticks. Butter makes everything better and tastier. Add the vegetables to the mix and use chicken stock to moisten. How moist you like your dressing can be determined by the amount of stock you add. There's not a strict rule; it's what you like.
Prior to adding the egg to bind the mixture I season to taste with salt, pepper, and rubbed sage last. I don't usually have to add much salt because the chicken stock is normally salty enough. Add sage a Tbsp. at a time. I like a lot of sage but if you use too much it can leave a bitter after taste. Get in there with your hands and mix it all up.
Now, if you want to use part of this recipe as stuffing and cook it inside the bird, please just make sure that, 1) don't cram it in the cavity of the bird; pack it loosely as it will expand; and 2) take the temp of the dressing and make sure it registers at 165°F.
2 - 6 ounce packages yellow cornbread baked according to package instructions
4 cups cubed bread or biscuits
2 sticks salted butter
6 stalks celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 cups chicken broth, boxed or homemade
salt and pepper to taste
5 Tbsp. rubbed sage
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Prepare cornbread according to package instructions. Cool and crumble in a large mixing bowl. Cube or tear up bread and add to mixing bowl.
Melt butter and saute' celery and onion until beginning to soften. Add to bread mixture and toss well. Add chicken broth and mix. Season with salt and pepper. Add sage. Once you are satisfied with the seasoning, add the eggs.
Turn mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake for 30 - to 40 minutes or until top is golden brown.