Food can help you discover things about yourself. I married a Southern guy. He married an Italian girl. He’s been a lot more willing to come over to myself of the table than I have been to his.
Take cornbread dressing for example. If I’m going to stuff myself, I want it on my terms, bread stuffing, the stuff I grew up on. But for fifteen years I would see his eyes light up at the thought of cornbread dressing, a dish I was completely unfamiliar with until I moved to Nashville. For the first few ten years I wouldn’t even taste it. I’m not sure what I was holding onto. Maybe it was my own family memories. I remember my first Thanksgiving in Nashville as the saddest Thanksgiving of my life. It rained and we had to drive the hour and half to his family’s house. The day was marred by a dark family matter and a discussion of a wedding to take place in a funeral home (it never happened).
Thanksgiving dinner is a bit sacred, and can hurt when spent with people that feel like strangers. I missed my brother and I remember crying all the way home. I wanted to leave Nashville, leave the family I married in to, because I didn’t feel like I belonged. I wanted to take my husband with me and run back to California, because even though my family wasn’t there, I left my friends who loved me.
Refusing to get involved with cornbread dressing was my way of holding onto what I missed about my life.
This year I decided to make cornbread dressing for my husband and for you. It now means I’m all the way in. After all, I wrote the Nashville bucket list for the Nashville Arts & Entertainment Magazine.
The Process for Healthier Cornbread Dressing
In order to make a good cornbread dressing, first make good old fashioned corn bread. I used a recipe from a cookbook. It makes a huge amount of cornbread in a 10 inch cast iron pan. This cornbread is heavy and dense, not the light cake stuff you buy in the box.
I’m making a dish I’m referring to as diabetic friendly. I’ve recently had friends diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and when I looked at the statistics, I was blown away. I’m already not a big sugar eater, and I adhere to the Paleo, no grain plan much of the time. However, there are times I want to have my holiday food and I now know that there are sixty million American either diagnosed diabetic or pre-diabetic in America over age 20. This tells me that almost 60 million Americans have to change the way they eat, and the rest of us need to be pro-active in not getting into that statistic.
Eating a lower-glycemic indexed diet is one way to prevent sugar spikes. (You know I’m not a doctor, and I need to say this. Talk to your doctor, etc. for medical advice). Now that I’ve said this, I’ll tell you something else. When you try to find diabetic friendly food on the internet, it’s not easy. In fact, it’s quite confusing and in the New Year, I’ll talk about this a bit more, as I create more Paleo and lower-glycemic, whole food, real food, healthy food recipes. I realize most people cannot eat grain free every day, and there needs to be alternatives that are easy enough to understand.
In this recipe, I lowered the glycemic index by using slower digesting grains coupled with fat and protein. The average person is like me. We don’t have time for strict calculations, but I did the math on this and it wasn’t easy. Regular people are not going to go to all this trouble. Using grains (courser cornmeal and spelt flour) that have a 50 or lower glycemic index, would be lowered even further by adding in the meat and fat. . It may not be completely accurate, as I don’t have that kind of test kitchen, but it’s in the ball park. I didn’t add any sugar to the cornbread and I put in fat by way of butter, sausage and nuts, which helps to aid in lowering the glycemic load. This recipe makes about 20 servings. Each serving is about 20 carbs, aided with enough fat and protein to lower the glycemic load.
As far as being diabetic friendly, this is a better choice over the potato dishes.
This recipe makes a good amount of cornbread. But you’ll want this amount. You should make it 48 hours in advance, because it needs to sit out on the counter and dry out. If by any chance you don’t have that kind of time, fear not. Spread it out on two cookie sheets, crumble, and toast it in a 400 degree oven, turning at 10 minutes.
There is a balancing act with cornbread dressing. It has to be moist, yet for me crispy on the bottom. I found out that you can make this in advance. Put it in a pie pan (not glass), freeze it and then stick it in the lower third of the oven (if you like that crispy bottom.
Making cornbread dressing might seem natural to you or ordinary but for me it was statement that says I’m all in. I’m in the family. I’m all in this city, Nashville. And, while I still love bread stuffing, I’m in with cornbread dressing too.
- 2¼ cup corn meal medium grind
- 1¾ cups spelt flour or all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- pinch baking soda
- 2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 5 tablespoons butter, diviided 3,2
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- 3 cups diced celery
- 2 cups diced onion
- 6 tablespoons butter (can use olive oil)
- 8 cups cornbread (you have option of mixing in white bread half and half with corn bread)
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 16 sage leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried sage)
- 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped parsley
- 2 extra large eggs or 3 small, beaten
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- ⅔ pound sage sausage or country sausage, cooked and crumbled into bite size pieces.
- Mix dry ingredients (corn meal, flour, baking powder, salt, sugar)
- Add dash of baking soda to buttermilk. Mix with eggs and 3 tablespoons melted butter.
- Gently mix wet ingredients into dry.
- Heat 10 inch cast iron pan with 2 tablespoon butter in oven.
- Carefully pour mixture into pan.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Cool.
- Crumble or break into pieces the cornbread. Allow to sit out and dry for two days. Or, place on two shallow cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes, turning once.
- Melt butter in large dutch oven. Add onion and celery and cook until softened. Add in nuts and chopped herbs. Cook a few minutes. Add in 3 cups of chicken broth, reserving 4th cup.
- Put corn bread in large bowl. Pour broth mixture over the cornbread. Allow to sit and absorb. You will know if you need to add more broth, especially if you like a more moist dressing.
- Place into baking dish and bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes.