We at the Franklin Farmers Market know you’re planning one heck of a Thanksgiving this year, so we’re here to help with one of our favorite holiday recipes — Southern Cornbread Dressing baked in your favorite cast iron skillet. Right now, our market is teeming with all the Thanksgiving staples you will need to create the freshest local Thanksgiving feast — freshly-dug sweet potatoes for casseroles, apples and pumpkins for pies, heirloom cornmeal for dressing, locally-raised bacon, freshly-harvested herbs, and all the fall vegetables for a smorgasbord of sides. So grab that cast iron skillet and get it good and hot, because this Southern cornbread dressing recipe is not one to pass-up.
What makes this Southern cornbread dressing from the Franklin Farmers Market so unique and delicious is the stone-ground heirloom cornmeal from Beaverdam Creek Farm. This cornmeal produces the freshest cornbread with the most tender crumb that we have ever tasted, and adds such a lovely texture to our Southern cornbread dressing.
To begin, fry 12 ounces of West Wind Farm hickory smoked uncured bacon in your favorite cast iron skillet. Remove bacon, crumble and set aside. Reserve all drippings in a separate bowl except for 2 tablespoons, and place skillet with bacon grease in a heated 400 degree oven.
Next, build the cornbread batter: Combine 2 cups Beaverdam Creek Farm stone-ground cornmeal with 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon sugar (optional!!!!) and whisk together with a fork. Next, add the wet ingredients: Crack in 1 farm egg, 1/4 cup of either bacon drippings or vegetable oil, and 1 1/4 cup of buttermilk. Fold all ingredients together until just combined (batter should still be lumpy). Quickly and carefully remove hot skillet from oven and pour in batter. If the batter sizzles, you know you are doing it right! Bake for approx 20 minutes, or until cornbread is golden brown. Top with Hatcher Family Dairy sweet cream butter, and remove from skillet to cool. Add two more tablespoons of West Wind Farm bacon drippings to skillet and set aside.
For the vegetables and herbs, we begin with a knob of butter or olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add two large diced sweet onions from Evans Produce to the pan with a pinch of salt and sauté until onions begin to brown (approx 5 minutes). Then add 1 1/2 cup small-diced fresh celery from Paradise Produce, and sauté until vegetables are tender. Then, add 1/4 cup of finely-diced fresh herbs from Bloomsbury Farm. We chose sage, rosemary, and thyme. Once veggies and herbs are brown and soft, remove from heat and add to a large mixing bowl. Place skillet and bacon drippings into oven to heat.
Finally, crumble the cornbread on top of the vegetable, add crumbled West Wind Farm bacon, and mix to combine. Next, add 2 cups of chicken or turkey stock. Taste and season dressing with salt and pepper before adding 2 farm eggs and combining. Remove skillet from oven and pour-in dressing. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until the top is browned and the center is spongy. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
Cast Iron Southern Cornbread Dressing
2 cups Beaverdam Creek cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar (optional!!!)
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 large farm egg
1/4 cup either West Wind Farm bacon drippings or vegetable oil
2 large sweet Evans Produce onions, small-diced
1 1/2 cups small-diced celery from Paradise Produce
1/4 cup chopped fresh Bloomsbury Farm herbs
Hatcher Family Dairy Butter (optional)
2 cups chicken or turkey stock
2 farm eggs
salt and pepper