Hello friends! It's a good day, no - it's a great day, when you get two for the price of one. At least I think it is. Sometimes I make one recipe knowing there will be a great use for it in another recipe. Like here. Delicious cornbread made from scratch and leftovers used to make a fabulous cornbread dressing! Oh yes, two of my all time favorites.
I am going to show you how to make cornbread like my Kentucky grandma did and how to make cornbread dressing like a true southerner. Oh boy, oh boy, are they both fantastic! We enjoyed cornbread with fried catfish two nights ago and tonight we had the world famous roast beef and dressing. What? Did I say roast beef and dressing? I sure did! Most of us think of dressing with turkey or chicken. You mean you can have it with roast beef? You can and absolutely should!
This combination comes from my first job. I started working at Mead Johnson and Company in Evansville, Indiana, the week after I graduated high school in 1966. I worked in the Medical Research Department. There was an employee cafeteria that served wonderful food for super reasonable prices. I mean real home cooked food. On Thursday, once a month they served roast beef and dressing. The cafeteria was always absolutely packed on that day and you knew you had to wait in line for a while, but is was so worth the wait. I don't know about you, but my mom always made dressing with poultry, we never had it with beef. This is where I learned that not only could you have it with beef, it was one of the best things ever!
Let me walk you through how to make cornbread in a cast iron skillet - a true southern treat. Don't get me wrong, I like Jiffy cornbread and I use it a lot, but it doesn't even compare with REAL cornbread. Kentucky cornbread. Southern cornbread. The most important part is a cast iron skillet, corn muffin, or corn stick baking pan. Yes, they come in cast iron. It's vitally important for that fabulously crispy, crunchy crust on the outside. No other baking pan will make your cornbread turn out this way. Seriously.
I have a 10 inch cast iron skillet that I use to bake my biscuits and cornbread in. Once you do it this way, you will understand why. Example - do you like Cracker Barrel cornbread? It's because they bake it in cast iron. It is soooooo yummy. Now, here is a BIG secret to good cornbread. The oil that you use in the batter should be heated in the cast iron skillet, swirled around the skillet then poured into the batter. This keeps the bread from sticking to the pan and makes for a better cornbread. Why? I don't really know, but it does and it is the way grandma and mom always did it. So, I do it too.
Here is what you need for the cornbread
1 1/2 cups self rising cornmeal mix (that means it already has the baking powder and salt in it, so you don't have to add it) If you can't find self rising cornmeal mix, look on line to find out how to make it.
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk (add 1 tsp white vinegar or lemon juice to whole milk if you don't have buttermilk on hand and let sit for 5 minutes)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all purpose flour
*1/4 cup sugar (we NEVER add sugar to our cornbread, feel free if you like it sweet)
Heat your oven to 450 degrees F.
Beat the eggs in a medium bowl and stir in the buttermilk, corn meal mix, flour (and sugar) until smooth. Heat the oil in the pan (I do this in the oven for about a minute), swirl it around the pan and add it to the batter. REMEMBER, HANDLE WILL BE HOT ON CAST IRON - USE A HOT PAD!!!!!
Mix the batter until smooth. It should be pourable, not too thick. If it seems too thick, add 1 to 2 tablespoons more milk. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake 20 - 25 minutes or until golden brown.
See, the batter is thick but pourable, like a brownie batter. After you remove the baked cornbread from the oven, let the pan sit for a few minutes, get a plate and flip the pan over so the cornbread can be cut and the beautiful crusty bottom becomes the top. This is how it looks.
Oh my goodness, it is so good. Eat it hot with a big slab of butter melted on it, or you could do it like my grandma always did for a night snack. Crumble cold cornbread up in a glass of milk or buttermilk and eat it with a spoon. Several of our family members had relatives who did the same. Did anyone in your family do this? Have I done it? No. Thanks. It might be delicious, but I can't stand anything floating in my milk other than cereal. Feel free to try it if you want. Let me know what you think.
Dan and I enjoyed this wonderful cornbread with our fried catfish the other night. Another reason for making the cornbread from scratch was so I could make dressing to go with our roast beef tonight. Two birds with one cornbread. Love it!
If you like stove top stuffing, you are going to love this recipe! It is super wonderful and so flavorful. It's really easy to make if you already have the cornbread made and you want it to be a day or two old. The dressing just works better with older bread, it doesn't get as soggy.
Here is how to make cornbread stuffing our family's way.
4-5 cups crumbled cornbread
3 slices bread, lightly toasted and crumbled
1 cup diced onions
1 cup diced celery
1/2 stick butter
1 tsp salt
fresh cracked black pepper
1 Tbsp ground sage
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
2 large eggs, beaten
3 cups beef stock (from a box or can), or a little more if needed.
Dice onions and celery. Melt butter in a skillet and add onions and celery. Cook until onions start to get clear - do not brown! You want them to be crunchy in the dressing.
Crumble cornbread and bread in a large bowl. Add 1 tsp salt and lots of fresh cracked black pepper.
Remove onions and celery from the stove and add to bread crumbs. Add salt, pepper, and spices. Mix thoroughly!!!! Add beef stock, mix thoroughly. Taste before adding eggs. Add anything you think needed now. (I like lots of sage, you may only want to use 2 tsps ground sage if you are not a fan.) Beat eggs with a fork in a bowl, add to bread mixture. Mix thoroughly! If the dressing seems dry, add a bit more beef stock. You want it very moist before baking.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Put all the dressing mixture in the pan and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve.
Look at all the bright green celery and onions everywhere. Yummmmmmmmo! I like the vegetables to have a bit of crunch to them instead of being soggy. That's why it is important not to overcook them in the skillet. This reheats beautifully in the microwave in case you don't eat it all .
Oh such succulent roast beef laying over that savory dressing. I have to tell you, it was a wonderful meal! Wish you could have joined us. The really exciting part is, we have left overs for tomorrow. I LOVE when that happens. Give these recipes a try. You are going to be cooking like a southerner in no time!
Things to Remember:
I remember as a kid being cold a lot, and hungry sometimes. We'd go to bed with just cornbread and milk, and I remember wearing shoes with holes in the bottom. I remember having twine for shoestrings.