Recipe: Cornbread Dressing (Stuffing) And Roast Turkey Half
This crouton recipe is based on my favourite cornbread recipe from gluten free girl and the chef. The dressing, or stuffing as some call it, is just like I remember mom making but with cornbread instead of wheat bread and fresh herbs instead of dry herbs. I love using fresh herbs when I can.
The croutons for this dressing are best made in advance. I like to make mine a couple of weeks ahead of time and freeze until needed. The cornbread crouton recipe below makes enough for two batches of dressing. If you’re planning to stuff a large turkey, I would double the Dressing recipe and use a full batch of the Cornbread Croutons.
If you have kids who are old enough to help out in the kitchen, making the Cornbread Croutons is something I’m sure they would enjoy being involved with. Especially after the baking part is finished and the sheet of Cornbread is ready for a run through with the pizza cutter. Separating the cubes, little hands would be perfect for that!
There are many ways to cook the dressing. I’ve cooked this Cornbread Dressing stuffed inside a big turkey, layered it under a half turkey as shown in the pictures below, covered and baked in a casserole dish and one time, cooked it in a slow cooker. It tasted great every time. It was really moist after cooking inside a turkey. In the slow cooker we had to stir the dressing every so often and add extra broth as the dressing cooked.
I guess it depends on how you like your dressing. Some prefer a really moist dressing while others like it a bit dryer. For myself and my family, we liked it best when cooked under a half a turkey (as shown below). It had both moist bits and drier crunchy bits that were perfect when all stirred together. I found this dressing was a bit on the dry side when cooked in a slow cooker or baked separately in a casserole dish. Stuffed inside a turkey, the dressing comes out evenly moist throughout.
Are you wondering where I got the half turkey? It was a whole frozen turkey that I got on sale after our Canadian Thanksgiving in October. My brother who is a hunter offered to cut it in half with a meat saw. He had cut fresh turkeys before but never a frozen one. It worked like a charm. For me that is. I just stood back and watched him do all the work. It was a manual saw he used but I’ve since seen videos online of people using power tools to cut frozen turkeys. If you decide to use either method, be sure to sterilize the saw blades before and after.
I figured if my brother could cut a frozen turkey in half, then the butchers in a meat department could do it as well. I made a couple of calls and here is what they said…
One of the larger grocery chains told me that the Meat Department wouldn’t be able to cut a frozen turkey in half because of a possible cross-contamination issue. They seldom cut poultry on site. Before switching from beef to pork or lamb or poultry, they have to take apart their equipment, hose it down, sanitize it (basically soak every part in bleach) and scrub all the nooks and crannies. That would be a lot of work to do before cutting up just one or two turkeys for those of us who are hosting smaller dinner parties.
A smaller grocery store chain told me they could cut up either a fresh or frozen turkey. They suggested I call their Meat Department first, to set up a convenient time. Their latest flyer has frozen turkey priced at 88 cents a pound. I think I’m going to give them a call and get a couple of turkeys cut in half, or maybe even into quarters. Imagine having small enough portions of turkey on hand that you can quickly defrost and throw in the oven in much the same way as you would a beef or pork roast?
The first step of making the Cornbread Croutons can be done well in advance. I usually make my croutons at least a week in advance and store them in the freezer until needed.
- ¾ Cup tapioca starch/flour or arrowroot starch
- ¾ Cup brown rice flour, or white rice flour
- ½ Cup sorghum flour
- ½ Cup coconut palm sugar, or sweetener of choice
- 2 Tbsp GF baking powder
- 1½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp guar gum
- ½ Cup shortening
- 4 extra-large eggs
- 2 Cups milk, or milk replacement of choice
- 2 Cups gluten free yellow cornmeal
- Preheat the oven to 425° F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Sift tapioca starch, rice flour, sorghum, sugar, baking powder, salt and guar gum together in a bowl.
- Use a pastry blender to cut shortening into the flour until you end up with small pea size lumps in the mixture.
- In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add milk, stir until well blended.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir until well blended.
- Add cornmeal. Stir until just combined.
- Pour into parchment lined cookie sheet. Use a spatula to spread and smooth batter evenly.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until sides are brown and shrinking away from sides of pan. For even cooking results, rotate pan half way through. Allow to cool on pan.
- Once cool to the touch, use a pizza cutter to cut into ½ inch cubes.
- Makes enough for two batches of Cornbread Dressing, or enough to stuff a larger turkey.
To substitute a gluten free all-purpose flour blend, omit tapioca starch/flour, brown or white rice flour and sorghum flour. Replace with 2 Cups of a gluten free all-purpose flour blend. Note: if your all-purpose blend already has xantham gum or gaur gum in the ingredients, omit gaur gum from the recipe.
The next step, is to dry the croutons, and assemble the stuffing.
- ½ batch, about 6 Cups of Cornbread Croutons (recipe above), dried **see notes on drying below
- 2 large ribs celery, diced
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 1 Tbsp frying oil of choice
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped
- 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped or 2 tsp dry
- 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped or 2 tsp dry
- 1 sprig fresh sage, finely chopped or 1 tsp dry
- 1 Cup gluten free vegetable stock or broth, plus extra if needed for moisture **if buying canned broth, make sure it is gluten free
- 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
- Start by making and drying the cornbread croutons. You can dry them by leaving them out on the counter for a few days, or dry them in the oven at a low temperature (225°F) for a few hours, or, my favourite method is to microwave on high for 7-12 minutes, stopping and stirring every couple of minutes.
- In a frying pan, sauté celery and onion in oil until translucent and beginning to caramelize. Add garlic and herbs, sauté until garlic is translucent and herbs have released their aroma. Remove from heat, set aside to cool.
- In a medium bowl, lightly beat egg. Add vegetable stock, stir to blend. Stir the cooled veggie mixture into the stock and egg mixture.
- Add mixture to dry cornbread cubes. Toss to fully incorporate. My mom always used her hands to toss the dressing mixture, so that’s what I do too.
Substitute about 6 Cups of dried gluten free bread cubes for the Cornbread Croutons. You will need about 8-10 slices cubed and dried.
Decision time. Your dressing is ready for cooking. Are you going to bake it in a pan, stuff it in or under a turkey, or cook it in a slow cooker?
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Rinse the turkey cavities, remove any loose bits that might be left from the gizzard packing. Place the turkey in a roasting pan, cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 375°F.
- The half turkey needs to roast at those temperatures for 2 1/2 to 3 hours total, depending upon size.
- If you have some extra GF broth on hand, you can use it to baste the turkey, or top the turkey with pats of butter, that will melt down the sides and give you a nice tender, moist bird.
- After the turkey has roasted for about an hour, gently remove it from the baking pan and set it aside. Layer the dressing on the bottom of the empty roasting pan. Carefully place the turkey on top of the dressing. Cover with foil and return to the oven for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove the foil for the last 30 minutes of cooking time.
- You can tell a turkey is cooked when the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 165°F. Most cooks prefer up to 180°F, measured with a meat thermometer in the thigh. You can also prick the leg joint, if the juices run clear, the turkey is done.
May God bless you all and keep you safe throughout this Holiday Season.
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