SOUTHERN CORNBREAD DRESSING WITH CHICKEN

Traditional Southern holiday dish, but enjoyed any time. Cornbread dressing is baked with the addition of cooked chicken.

Ingredients :
1 10-inch cast iron skillet of baked, cooled, and crumbled unsweetened cornbread
5 slices 2-day-old white bread, crusts removed
1 medium onion, chopped (about 3/4 c)
2 ribs celery, chopped (1/2 c)
1 stick butter or margarine, divided
2 jumbo eggs
4 – 5 cups chicken stock or broth*
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning, optional
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Salt, to taste (optional)
4 – 5 cooked chicken breasts, chopped (I boiled them)
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped (optional)(I omitted this time)

Directions :
Bake and cool your favorite cornbread recipe; then crumble and set aside. *(I prepared 2 pouches Martha White Yellow Cornbread & Muffin Mix as directed on package, then cooled, crumbled, and laid out on jellyroll pan to dry out a bit.)
Remove crusts from bread and tear into pieces then pulse in a food processor into crumbs but not too fine. Pour crumbs onto a jellyroll pan and place in a warm oven for 20-30 minutes to dry out. Let cool on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, saute the onion and celery in 6 tablespoons butter, then set aside.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 13×9 baking dish with cooking spray.
In an extra-large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs; then stir in the onion and celery mixture, 4 cups chicken stock/broth*, poultry seasoning (if using), black pepper, and 2 tablespoons melted butter. Add the cooled and crumbled cornbread and bread crumbs, stirring gently just until combined, adding more stock/broth if needed (it needs to be a tiny bit soupy). Fold in the cooked chicken and boiled eggs, if using. Pour mixture into the baking pan.
Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until center is set and lightly browned. If it starts to brown too soon, tent a sheet of aluminum foil over the top. (Sometimes, so it bakes more evenly, I give it a stir after about 20 minutes of baking time, moving the center part toward the edges and the edges toward the center. Then finish baking it.)
Serve with homemade chicken gravy and cranberry sauce. And homemade mashed potatoes. And Southern green beans. And yams. And yeast rolls. 😀
NOTE:
*If using chicken broth instead of stock, heat about 1 cup of it then dissolve 1 teaspoon Chicken Flavor “Better Than Bouillon” (or chicken bouillon granules) in it before adding to the cornbread mixture.

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