Okay, let me first say, there is no one cornbread dressing recipe that will please everyone. We all grew up with moms that made it just a little bit differently, and I love all the stuff my mom makes at Thanksgiving—even the sweet potatoes with marshmallows. Okay, especially the sweet potatoes with marshmallows. That being said, this is not my mom’s recipe. This is my recipe, which I’ve made for the last several years, tweaking it just a little bit each time. It’s also great with sausage, but this is the slightly lighter version.
Robin’s Cornbread Dressing:
1/3 of a stick of butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped celery (don’t chop it too finely—you still want it to look like celery)
1 medium fennel bulb, diced
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 medium/large crisp, sweet apples (Fuji apples are my favorite)
1tsp. +1 tbs. kosher salt
2 tsp. dried fennel seeds
2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried sage
2 prepared 8X8 pans of yellow cornbread
1 cup apple juice
2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth for our vegetarian friends)
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. fresh black pepper (to taste)
½ cup chopped pecans
Melt the butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the celery and fennel, and sauté for five minutes. Add the onion, apples, fennel seeds, 1 tsp. salt, thyme, and sage. Sauté for about five-10 more minutes, or until the onions begin to get translucent.
In a large mixing bowl, crumble the cornbread. When it’s done, pour the apple mixture over the top. Add the apple juice, chicken broth, eggs, pepper, pecans and the rest of the salt. Combine.
Spoon the mixture into a 9 by 13 pan, and bake for 45 minutes. The mixture should become firm and the top should brown. It should also smell awesome.