I was born in Alabama and grew up in northern Florida (essentially southern Alabama), and so I never had bread stuffing until I was an adult. That’s because cornbread was the baguette of the south, and that’s what we used to make our Thanksgiving “dressing.” We didn’t call it cornbread stuffing because we never stuffed the bird.
As a young adult, I moved north and started making bread-based stuffing. Eventually that bread version became my younger daughter Sharon’s favorite dish on the Thanksgiving table, and so whatever else I served, there always had to be classic bread stuffing. Over the years I’ve tried to get her to make the switch to cornbread stuffing—”just for a change” or “just this year.” Nope. No way.
This year I was feeling particularly nostalgic and craving the dressing of my youth. I felt so strongly that I wrote the family and told them there would be two stuffings. Sharon’s favorite, of course, but that this year I would be making cornbread stuffing as well, and it would be a nod to two parts of myself—my southern upbringing and my recent Planetarian shift.
Cornbread stuffing, made plant-based
Since I had already developed a cream corn-based cornbread that I really loved, I Planetarianized it by subbing in plant creamer and apple cider vinegar for the buttermilk, ground flax for the eggs, and plant-based butter for the dairy butter. Though I prefer my cornbread in muffin-or corn stick form, baking it in a 13- by 9-inch pan made a thin bread, perfect for cutting into cubes.
As for the stuffing itself, I followed my recipe for Festive Stuffing with “Sausage” and Cranberries omitting the plant sausage and cranberries and cutting back on the broth. (Cornbread isn’t as absorbent as its bread counterpart.) Other than that, the recipe is identical to the basic bread stuffing I’ve been making for years.
I’m not sure I’ll do this every year, but this Thanksgiving it’s a of pan each!
Herbed Cornbread Stuffing
- 1 recipe Creamy Cornbread baked in a 13- by 9-inch baking pan
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 2 1/4 cups broth, your choice
- 4 tablespoons 1/4 cup plant or dairy butter
- 2 medium onions, cut into medium dice (a generous 2 cups)
- 3 medium celery stalks, cut into medium dice (a generous 1 cup)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon each: chopped fresh sage and thyme or 1 teaspoon each: dried sage and thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel or whole fennel seeds, minced
- Salt and ground black pepper
- If you haven’t baked cornbread yet, do it now. Cut cornbread into medium-size cubes and turn onto a large (12- by 18-inch) rimmed baking sheet. Let stand for several hours or overnight to dry out. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake cubes until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a large bowl; set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- Mix chia seeds with broth; set aside for 10 minutes or so to rehydrate chia.
- Meanwhile, heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and celery; sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Add to bowl of cornbread cubes, along with herbs, fennel, and broth mixture; toss to coat. Taste and adjust seasonings, including salt and pepper to taste. Turn into a greased 13- by 9-inch baking pan and cover with cooking spray-coated foil; bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove foil from pan and broil to brown top if needed, just a couple of minutes; serve.