And you think, "oh yeah, they really wish I was there with them, eating a Fish Sandwich (Haddock) while watching the waves breakdance on the rocks below at the foggy Pemaquid Point." "I wish," you think, "but some of us have to work for a living."
Rocky Pemaquid Point, Maine
Consider this my Thanksgiving postcard, only it reads "Wish You Had Been Here." What that really means in postcard language is "I forgot to remove the lens cap" and there are no tantalizing pictures of the chicken and dressing I spent all day Saturday preparing. Or the picture of the plate piled with dressing and the canned jellied condiment, all you can eat.
I did have the radio blaring (Florida/Georgia Line or Roar) and was probably dancing around the dog who velcros himself to the stove, sitting patiently waiting for chicken bits to fall from my fingers. Burt, the amazing factoid machine, recently found an article claiming chicken is a dog's favorite food. I believe it because a stewing chicken would attract a whole neighborhood of dogs if I let them in the house.
I will continue with the recipe because it will still work. Of course, I have to go look for the blue sticky note I used to write down the recipe as I cooked. When I am making dressing for just us, I don't follow a recipe and taste as I go. But I promise, this time I wrote it down. I did hold off on more sage because I know that sage is a personal preference. I always use more than most folks.
I mix this up in my 8 qt. pot. If the pictures had been available, you would see me wearing non-latex gloves but in truth, I usually use the best tools: very, very clean hands.
PERFECT CORNBREAD DRESSING
2 batches of perfect cornbread
1 stick of butter
2 cups each of celery and onion, sliced and diced
4 cups of homemade broth*
5 tsp rubbed sage
salt and pepper to taste
Add celery, onion and butter to skillet. Cook on low until veggies are softened but not mushy. Turn off heat. In large pot, add cornbread and crumble up, smooshing it well with your fingers. Think of this as playing with your food. This will take a few minutes if done properly. Next, add butter and cooked veggies to the cornbread mash and mix well. Add cooled broth (not straight from the pot, too hot) and mix. Add four beaten eggs and mix. Add sage and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. This should have a consistency between cake dough and cookie dough but not stiff.
Pour into prepared pan but don't fill to the very top. This will more than fill up a 9 X 13 stainless baking pan. I just don't have one pan big enough. The more dressing there is in the pan the longer it will take to cook (which I have learned the hard way, waiting and waiting). Just use a another smaller pan. Cook at 350 for one hour. Insert fork in the middle to test for doneness. Let it set for a few minutes before serving.
Don't even think of throwing a few crumbs of light bread into the mix. However, I have known of cooks who have added dry cornmeal to reduce the mix if too much broth is added. The nice thing about dressing is that you can make it the day before and take your time to get it right. I had never even made dressing until about ten years ago and never with a recipe. Good luck.
VARIATION: To make Chicken and Dressing, used cooked meat from Chicken Broth. Skin and bone breasts well. Shred meat and toss into the uncooked dressing. You can also spread the meat on top and press it down into the uncooked dressing before cooking.
We love fresh cranberries in my house but do keep canned on the shelf for convenience between times.
4-5 large chicken breasts -
WITH skin and bones still intact
3-4 stalks of celery and celery leafs
1 onion, quartered
salt and pepper to taste
Place chicken breasts in pot and pour enough water to cover completely. Add vegetables and salt and pepper. Stew on stovetop for about an hour but depends on size of meat. I always check my chicken with a meat thermometer to test doneness. Keep on a low boil until cooked thoroughly. Makes good broth, better than canned!
The pot pictured on the right came from The Elk Hotel kitchen, my grandparents' hotel, once located on the corner of the square in the county seat, when the county square was the center of all commerce and communication.