There is still time for you to get yourself to the nearest grocery store, pick up the items and start preparing my dad's traditional, awesome cornbread dressing. I have posted the recipe as written by one of my beloved niece's (eldest grandchild). The first Christmas after my mother passed in September my dad insisted we have the dinner at his house. Not anything really new for him, being that he usually preferred to stay home and let everyone come there to visit. We never lacked for food around our house, especially during holiday meals. Mom always made what everyone liked, macaroni and cheese for me, fried okra, lima beans, creamed potatoes if no dressing, so that the beans and okra could stick to it for a trip to your mouth, deviled eggs, fruit salad, rolls, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, cake......uh, you get the idea. All that food but much of the talk went to dad and his dressing, which is awesome but...you know....gotta give kudos to my mom while once again, dad's dressing is highlighted. My eldest niece, Stephenie, went out early to help with the making of the dressing. Frankly, I do not recall if dad made the cornbread alone the day before, probably, though he was weak then and the large cast iron skillet filled is heavy. He lived 45 minutes from she and I. She made a video of the whole process and I have yet to watch it, don't know if ever I will, but am sure that I want a copy to pass to my children. I have not made it in a while, deferring to my mother-in-law's recipe, which is very different, to please my picky eating husband. My kids like both recipes and this year wanted dad's. So today, I have baked the cornbread and cut up my vegetables, thawed my hen and am ready for tomorrow. My niece is making the dressing for my brother's (her father) side of the family's meal tomorrow. Her 4 year old little boy's is interested in cooking already, VolleyGirl is helping me tomorrow, just as she did today. The tradition will continue, hopefully.
Papa Loyd's Holiday Dressing & Giblet Gravy
Note: no shortcuts allowed. No broth instead of homemade stock. No store bought cornbread. I've tried the shortcuts and they just. don't. work. It's not the same.
1 hen (not chicken)
2-3 onions, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 large pones cornbread (if you don't know what a pone is you have no business making this recipe)
2 TBS yellow mustard
2 TBS ketchup
2 TBS Italian seasoning
1/2 to 2/3 cup fresh sage, finely chopped (reduce amount if dried)
3 slices bread, torn up into small pieces
1 (8 oz.) can oysters, drained & chopped
3 TBS jarred pimento, finely chopped
salt & pepper to taste
The day before: cook cornbread & cool completely. Crumble both pones.
Day of Thanksgiving:
Remove giblets from hen and set aside.
Rinse hen and place in stockpot & cover with water, about 8 cups. Simmer covered until done, reserving broth. De-bone hen & reserve meat.
Preheat oven 350 degrees
In large saucepan melt butter & add onion, celery, and bell pepper. Add all the broth from hen, cover and simmer 10 minutes.
In BIG ("dressing") bowl, combine crumbled cornbread, torn bread pieces, & the broth mix until it reaches spaghetti sauce consistency. If mix is too soupy, add more bread pieces.
Add all the remaining ingredients & mix well.
Pour mixture into a large roasting pan. Bake 1 hour until golden.
Serve hot with giblet gravy & hen meat on the side.
Finely chop hen giblets.
Simmer 3 cups chicken broth on stovetop. Add flour a little at a time, stirring constantly until a smooth, thin rue is formed. Add chopped giblets, blend well, and simmer.
Salt, pepper, and otherwise season to taste, can add one or two sliced boiled eggs to gravy if you want to be extra-Southern.
Yields: enough for a crowd of at least 10-15.