Come in and Stay Safe! --Sue

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving: Arkansas Cornbread Dressing

This is an old family recipe from my husband's family: real Southern skillet cornbread dressing. 

My husband's family is from a town in Arkansas called El Dorado.  Not the Lost City of Gold that Gonzalo Pizarro was looking for; rather, it was a South Arkansas oil boom town of the 1920s.  I have not actually been there, but I read about it regularly, in the pages of the Presbyterian Cookbook, published in 1953 and again, with supplement, in 1975.

I have both editions; by 1975 the brown clothbound cover was abandoned in favor of ring binding.  The new book has all the old content plus modern additions such as Tang Tea and Chinese Three-Bean Salad.  However I keep gravitating back to the 1953 book with its cooking-stained pages, frayed and brown edges, and hand-written notes.

At Thanksgiving,  notes from my husband's mother point the way to skillet cornbread and the associated dressing.  These recipes are basic, but authentic, and the resulting dressing is a pleasant backdrop to gravy, cranberry sauce, turkey, or spiced peaches.

Arkansas Cornbread Dressing


For Skillet Cornbread:
1 cup corn meal
3 Tablespoons flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 egg, well beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter

For Cornbread dressing:
Several slices substantial bread, cubed
4 stalks celery
1 and 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon sage
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, each
1 teaspoon baking powder

Note: We have an heirloom cornbread skillet, seasoned black with use, that works well with the recipe; use one of these if possible.  If not, an 8" square pan will do.


  1. Make the cornbread:  If using iron cornbread skillet, preheat it in a 375F oven for 15 minutes.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl or food processor, then add milk and egg, mix well.  Add melted butter and beat in until combined.

  3. Remove hot skillet from oven and quickly spray with cooking spray, or brush with oil.  Pour cornbread mixture in and return to oven.  Bake for 25 minutes at 375F.

  4. Make the Dressing: Combine the bread and the cornbread, crumbled, in a large bowl.  Pour on one cup of the broth, then add beaten eggs. 

    Melt the butter in a large saute pan, add chopped onions and celery, then add the other cup of broth.  Simmer until vegetables are tender.
    Mix all together with seasonings.  Mix well and have it about the consistency of uncooked corn bread.

  5. Place the dressing in a buttered souffle dish and bake for 45 minutes at 350F, or until puffled and golden.  Serve hot with turkey and gravy.


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