Monday, December 24, 2007

Dressing My Way

First things first. I'm all about dressing versus stuffing. Dressing bakes as a separate dish so it gets nice and brown and crispy on top. We are a dressing family.

With that said, there are a million ways to make dressing. Time in New Orleans gave me an appreciation for oyster dressing. I've made some close approximations to sausage dressing. In other versions, I've seen people add dried cranberries and nuts.
I have to say that my favorite is cornbread dressing with apple, celery and onion. We typically make it the day before the meal, so the flavors can meld in the refrigerator. It tastes so much better!

Here is where the opinions differ in my family. First there's the type of cornbread. Before I found a good cornbread recipe, I made mine with Jiffy mix. This is heresy! Not that I use a mix, but that I use Jiffy, which is on the sweet side. I like Yankee cornbread -- fluffy like cake and sweet. Save the unsweetened stuff for hush puppies. I crumble my cornbread and leave it out to stale.

Then there's the issue of how to cook the vegetables. I was taught to boil the veggies until they turned to mush and then add them and the flavorful broth to the dressing. A few years ago, I started sautéeing the veggies (the purchase of some new All-Clad fry pans and sauté pans can be very inspirational.) Besides, I like texture. I also want to be able to see what I'm eating.

Lastly, we have an herb debate. I love sage! It is one of my favorite herbs. I like a good strong sage flavor. The joke was that there's so much sage in my dressing, it's almost green. My dad and one aunt are with me on that. The second part of the herb issues is dried versus fresh. Once I switched to fresh, I never looked back -- thyme, extra rosemary and of course lots of sage.

We do agree on the use of butter!

I made dressing this morning for someone. I used a different brand of chicken broth. It was a bit salty for my taste. I was able to get things under control by adding extra unseasoned bread cubes.

The test batch was delicious! (Yeah, I ate it with a spoon.)

Tools of the trade:

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