This egg-free and dairy-free dressing is made with store-bought sourdough and scratch-made cornbread with all the classic flavors of the holiday season.
If you're anything like me, the BEST part of any holiday meal is the dressing. I sometimes use both the words "stuffing" and "dressing" interchangeably. Spending your life in two different parts of the South will do that to ya. The fact of the matter remains - my nanny called it dressing. She also put slices of hard-boiled egg on top but we won't talk about that. Traditionally, stuffing is what's stuffed inside the bird and dressing is cooked separately. Growing up, my sweet Nanny Jeanette, from who I get my namesake, always handmade her cornbread dressing. I'd watch her use her bare hands to break apart the freshly cooled cornbread and toss the large chunks in egg and chicken stock. It was normal to see my Nanny using her hands to cook. The same hands that fed me a bottle as a baby and patted my back while rocking me as a young girl.
As Nanny grew older, we started to see small signs of dementia fairly early - a symptom of the same disease that took her mother. My earliest memory of the slow beginnings of her cognitive decline was about 13 years ago on Thanksgiving Day. It involved - you guessed it - her cornbread dressing. This dish was my Nanny's specialty. Year after year, I watched her work her hands into the bread, and year after year it came out perfect. Even if I had to pick off the now rubbery baked hard-boiled eggs on top. One year, she completely forgot that she had already salted the dish. Rather than taking a small nibble to check, she salted it again. Now, my Nanny knows how to season food. So, when I say that she salted it again - she SALTED it again. When it was time to serve, I took a large bite. It was so unbearably salty that I spit it out into the garbage. Nanny wasn't around when I did this. I would never. When I told my mom, she said "Don't say anything to your Nanny. She's just getting old." In truth, she wasn't really THAT old at the time. It would be nearly a decade before we would know that she had dementia. Whether or not this memory was actually attributed to her dementia is hard to say. In retrospect, it was the first time I realized that I would watch my grandmother, and everyone else around me, age in such a way. My nanny is now under my mother's care. Some days are worse than others but from what I understand, she's still the feisty woman that helped raise us and taught us the value of retail therapy.
As I got older, I realized that while I love the cornbread dressing that I grew up eating - I also really love some fresh from the box Stove Top Stuffing. Say what you will. Judge if you must but that ish is goooooood. Dress it up a little bit and you've got a masterpiece in minutes. While this recipe isn't as quick as Stove Top, it is a perfect combination of the dish I grew up with and my favorite non-guilty pleasure. Why should we have to choose between the two? We're adults now and we do what we want. This veganized dressing uses a little cornstarch in place of egg and vegetable broth in place of chicken broth. Easy peasy!
For the best results, this recipe requires you to bake the cornbread the day before. Once cooled, you'll cube it along with the sourdough and let it sit out overnight. The cornbread recipe will make double what you need for your recipe. I suggest making an easy pot of my Carolina BBQ Sweet Potato Chili the night before to serve it with.
What you'll need...
9 x 13 pan
10-12" round cake pan or skillet
Sourdough & "Buttermilk" Cornbread Dressing
Author: Megan Thompson Aston
Time: ~ 2 hrs
5 cups of cornbread, cubed
5 cups of sourdough, cubed
1 cup onion, chopped. About 1/2 large onion
1 cup of celery, chopped
1 1/2 cup mushroom, chopped
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped + to taste
1 tbsp poultry seasoning + to taste
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp parsley, dried
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp avocado oil ( or other cooking oil)
1/2 tsp black pepper + to taste
1 tsp salt + to taste
Fresh parsley, chopped for serving
For the "buttermilk" cornbread
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup avocado oil
2 1/4 cup plant-milk ( soy is best)
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
For the "buttermilk" cornbread
The day before you make the stuffing, you'll make your cornbread. In a small bowl, combine the plant-milk with the apple cider vinegar. Stir and within seconds you should see it become thick & curled. Set this aside and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium bowl, combine all your dry ingredients: AP flour, yellow cornmeal, cornstarch, nutritional yeast, baking powder, baking soda, salt, & brown sugar.
Pour the avocado oil into the dry mixture and use your hands to work the oil into the flour. This will help reduce gluten development - resulting in a more tender crumb.
Next, pour half of your "buttermilk" into the oiled flour. Mix until combined.
Pour the remaining milk into the thick batter. Mix until just combined. The batter will be thin.
Pour your cornbread batter into a well-oiled cake pan or cast-iron skillet and bake in a 400-degree oven for about 50 mins. When a toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden brown the cornbread is ready.
Once cooled, carefully cut about half of the cornbread into 1-inch cubes to give you 5 cups of cubed cornbread. Do the same with your sourdough.
Spread the bread onto a large pan or piece of parchment paper and allow the bread to sit out overnight. If you're making this same day, you can slowly dehydrate the bread in a 250-degree oven over the course of a few hours. Watch it closely though. You don't want the bread to burn or overly toast. Just dry out a touch.
For the dressing
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
In a skillet over medium heat, add cooking oil or plant-based butter. Beginto saute the fresh vegetables until lightly brown and onions are transparent: Onions, celery, mushroom, and adding garlic last - right before everything else is finished.
Add the nutritional yeast to your vegetables, coat them evenly, and continue to cook for a few minutes. Turn the heat down to low.
In a small cup, take 1/4 of the vegetable broth and mix with the cornstarch until no lumps are present. Set aside.
Pour the vegetable broth into the skillet with the vegetables. Add your fresh & dried herbs: rosemary & parsley.
Whisk until all the seasonings and vegetables are evenly distributed.
Pour the broth/cornstarch mixture into the warm broth and whisk until combined. Turn off the heat completely. We don't want the mixture to thicken yet. We just want to incorporate it. It will thicken in the oven.
In a large bowl, gently toss your cornbread and sourdough cubes together.
Give your broth mixture another stir to suspend the cornstarch and pour over the top of your bread cubes. Gently fold to make sure everything is wet and the vegetables are distributed. At this point, you can salt to taste or adjust seasonings. Set aside.
In a well oiled or buttered baking dish, begin to transfer your dressing mixture.
Using a spoon, slightly press the dressing down into an even layer and cover the dish with aluminum foil.
Bake covered for 30 minutes
Remove aluminum foil and continue to bake for another 20 minutes.
Allow to set and cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Sprinkle with fresh parsley & enjoy.