Monday, December 27, 2010

Crockpot Corn Bread Dressing (aka stuffing)


In my family, we like our turkey at both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sometimes we'll freeze some turkey from Thanksgiving for Christmas, sometimes we'll prepare another one. This year I prepared two. Our Christmas turkey was one that had been in the deep freezer for almost a year because I was afraid to fix it. It was right out of the Christmas Carol -- Tiny Tim's turkey. A whopping 26 pounds. I'm used to fixing 18-20 pound turkeys, sometimes smaller ones. This one wasn't going to fit in a roasting bag, let alone my roasting pan. I had been bummed last year that I waited a week before Thanksgiving to get our turkey and had to settle for an 11-pounder. So I bought the biggest one I could find later, only to bring it home and realize how very big it was. Daunting. I then went out and bought a smaller one that I could fix with confidence.

But ... this year I fixed it. I cut a lot of the fat off it, then we removed one of the thighs and drumsticks so it could fit in the roasting pan and bag. It took nearly 4 hours to cook -- and the thigh/drumstick took more than an hour! It certainly wasn't the prettiest turkey, after being mutilated like that, but it was delicious, and it will make some good gumbo. I'll share that recipe with you when I make it.

This post isn't about my huge turkey, however, it's about the dressing. Stuffing, as I also sometimes call it. You can't have a turkey without it, right? I realize it's a little late to be providing such a recipe but it's fresh on my mind right now, and this way you'll be sure to have it for next year's Thanksgiving.

There is a corn bread dressing recipe that has been used in my family for generations. It's amazing. But it's not the one I make. After I had children, I wanted something simpler. I'd heard rumors of a delicious crockpot recipe, but could it compare to my family recipe? The only way to know was to try, and try I did. And it was. After going gluten-free, I wasn't sure but gave it a try with some different ingredients. If anything, this dressing is better than the one I grew up with. It certainly tastes very similar, and my mouth waters just thinking of it waiting in the refrigerator right now. I adapted this recipe from http://www.food.com/recipe/crock-pot-cornbread-dressing-146944.

Note: Setting the bread out 2 days before will save time later - and so will making your gravies ahead of time!
Projected active prep time: 45 min; Projected cook time: 5 or more hours
(Printable Recipe)

6 c. corn bread (just use an entire skillet from this recipe)
4 slices Food For Life Rice Pecan bread
4 slices Food For Life white rice bread (you can use other bread for this recipe, but I've found this bread works best)
4 large eggs
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 c. celery, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp. poultry seasoning or sage (I use Watkins poultry seasoning)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
*1 recipe Watkins cream gravy (makes approx. 3 cups) from Watkins Cream Soup & Gravy base
*1 recipe Watkins chicken gravy (makes approx. 1 c.) from Watkins Chicken Soup & Gravy base
12 oz. gluten-free chicken stock
1/4 c. salted butter
Salt to taste
*If you don't have these Watkins products, you can use 3 cups of your own preference of thickened cream soup or cream gravy, and 1 cup of thickened chicken gravy)

Two days before you fix your dressing, break up bread slices into large crumbs. (If you don't have two days, dry them out in the oven at a low heat.)

Crumble the corn bread and add to the bread, mixing all up and spreading onto a large cookie sheet. Let it sit out like this to dry for two days, mixing through it every so often so it dries evenly. The gluten-free bread is denser, so it needs longer to dry and cook.

Chop up your veggies and have them ready any time. In this photo, they are actually thawed from the freezer because enough was chopped up at Thanksgiving.


Make your gravies ahead of time. Either earlier the day you plan to cook the dressing or sometime that week (then refrigerate). Make the cream gravy ...


And the chicken gravy ...


Mix them together.

Break your eggs into a very large bowl and add your bread crumbs, black pepper, poultry seasoning and a little salt. In my case I usually take two or three good sized pinches from my salt cellar.


Mix very well.

Add veggies and chicken stock. I know it's better to make your own, but I just don't always have time for that. I usually use Kitchen Basics for my brand.


Add your gravies now, as well. Mix it all well and pour into a very well-buttered (bottom and sides) crockpot.


The gluten-free breads take much longer to cook. I usually put it on high for a couple of hours in the covered crockpot until it looks like it's cooking well, then switch to low for two or three hours. If it looks like it's not cooking through again, I switch it back to high. I also sometimes crack the lid open a little if it looks like it's retaining too much liquid.



After it looks like it's cooked through, dot it with the butter and cover again, letting it melt and cook into the stuffing a little.


Serve warm. Store leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer. Yumm!

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