While I am addicted to this stuffing, I have to admit it's not the best I ever tasted. Mother always made her own, almost identical to this. But one year Uncle Theo, who was living with us at the time, decided that Mom shouldn't have to stuff the turkey. He arrived proudly with an enormous frozen brand-name bird (I think a Butterball, but I'm not sure - it was over 50 years ago) already stuffed with "Southern Style Cornbread Stuffing", and water-injected for extra moistness.
We were both grateful and dismayed, being accustomed to Mother's dressing. Needn't have worried; not only was the bird fork tender with a delightful crispy skin, but the stuffing was heaven - with just the right amount of sage and pepper, and who knows what else. It disappeared in an instant.
Over the years I've tried various recipes for cornbread stuffing and none come close. So I reverted to the next best, our old standard which I find glorious enough.Turkey with Classic Bread Stuffing
2 pounds white bread or 1 pound each white and whole wheat
Find something with a dull flat edge such as the back of a large knife, and press the bread into squares the size of croutons, about three or four across and the same long. Place in warm oven to dry; I set it to 250º for 15 minutes and then turn it off and leave overnight. Crack into little squares and seal in a large bowl two or three days before needed. If quite dry, they do not need to be refrigerated.
Chop onions semi-coarsely. Slice celery fairly thin, including most of the inner leaves, discarding the outer toughest, darkest or bruised ones. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large deep skillet or large heavy pan. When melted, turn heat high and add veggies. Stir frequently; they will "water out" some, but if they start to stick, turn down the heat as needed. Cook until celery is limp. Add seasonings. You can store in the fridge for a couple of days if you need to cook ahead.
D-Day - After you make space in the refrigerator by removing the turkey, mix the bread and sautéed seasoned veggies. Add 2 cups of broth and mix well. Refrigerate immediately.
Optional: We assume that after the turkey has thawed sufficiently, you'll remove the giblets and simmer in chicken broth, etc. for gravy. After the turkey is stuffed and in the oven, and the giblets are pressure-cooked, I place aside until cool enough to handle, then chop all the meat fine (I include the liver, many people may not want to do that) including that removed from the neck bones which is extremely tasty. Add to the remaining stuffing and mix well. This dressing should be well moistened but not soggy. Add some of the broth from the giblets little by little; I put it back in the fridge and test now and then, adding broth until it's just right. (The stuffing in the turkey can be dryer, as it absorbs juices from the turkey.) Taste and correct seasoning if needed. The balance of the broth can be used to make gravy, along with the defatted turkey drippings. When the turkey is within an hour or so of being done, I fill a covered casserole dish with stuffing, and place in the oven until it starts to brown around the edges. You may remove the cover for the last 10 to 15 minutes to dry it a little or make the top crispy.
Refrigerate quickly after eating; freeze now any leftovers you won't use within two days. Same goes for the turkey and gravy, of course. Extra stuffing not baked can also be frozen for later. Enjoy!
PS: To serve frozen leftovers another time, place in a
covered casserole and microwave, stirring occasionally, until piping hot.