Cornbread dressing is not something I make often; in fact I think it’s been at least a decade since the last time I made a batch. This last week I made jalapeno & cheese corn bread muffins to go with chili and after the chili was gone the corn bread muffins were lingering in the kitchen getting stale, and the idea to resurrect and improve my corn bread stuffing recipe was born. The whole family loved the resulting pumped up Jalapeno TexMex Corn Bread Dressing served along with a roasted chicken and some sweet and tangy cranberry sauce.
The dressing/stuffing debate rages and I am going to stay out of it. The current opinion that stuffing a bird is bad because it forces you to overcook the bird (turkey or chicken) to get the dressing fully cooked has lead me to leave my chicken unstuffed and bake the dressing on the side. You could if you want stuff the bird with this “dressing” it is your choice. I do like that by not stuffing the chicken it cooked in almost the same amount of time as the side of dressing, very convenient. Although come Thanksgiving I can almost guaranty that Tom Turkey will be stuffed full my mom’s sage and sausage dressing, food snobs be dammed.
In this recipe I used up a number of things that were already in my kitchen and did not have to make a special grocery trip. Using up what is on hand is the whole point of dressing or stuffing, it is a way to use and not lose stale bread and past their prime veggies. So in addition to the stale muffins I also used up a few slices of prosciutto leftover from pizza making the other night, a couple of limp peppers and the slightly stale crackers someone left open overnight. You should do the same poke around the kitchen and see what needs to get use up and toss it in your version of this dressing. I know that going out to buy 4-5 strips of very expensive prosciutto for a batch of stuffing is a little silly so in the below recipe I list bacon as what to use but you could just as easily use a few links of breakfast sausage or any other tasty pork product you have floating around. Be brave, be frugal and enjoy your own version of this corn bread dressing.
Jalapeno TexMex Corn Bread Dressing
- 8-10 jalapeno and cheese corn bread muffins or some store bought muffins
- 4-5 slices of bacon or other tasty pork product
- 2 large cubanelle or poblano peppers
- 1-2 large mild red peppers bell or any other kind you like
- 1 jalapeno
- 3 ribs of celery
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 12-20 saltine crackers
- 4 tbs salted butter melted
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp smoky paprika
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1.5 tsp cumin
- 1 can of chicken broth
Start by breaking up you corn bread muffins into cubes and spreading them on large sheet pan. Put the pan into a 200 degree oven for 20-40 minutes to dry the bread out. Stir the cubes about every 20 minutes until they are really dry. Then turn up the oven to 400 degrees and brown up the edges of the cubes, it should only take about 10 minutes for this to happen. Remove the cubes from the oven a let them cool.
In a pan on the stove brown up the bacon over medium heat while you chop up all the different peppers, celery and the garlic into a small dice. Once the bacon is nicely cooked up add the veggies into the pan. Do not drain off the fat that has rendered out of the meat.
Cook the veggies until tender and starting to brown. Then deglaze the pan with about quarter cup of chicken broth and add the dry spices along with salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cook off about half the chicken broth.
In a large mixing bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the hot veggies. Next crumble up the crackers and put them in the bowl along with the frozen corn. Add in the two eggs and melted butter then stir it all together and adjust the dry spices to your preference, trust you nose add spices until it smells right. If the dressing looks dry add another egg or some more of the chicken broth. If the mix looks like there is too much bread/crackers you could add more celery or even an onion.
Transfer the dressing to an oven safe dish that is nicely greased and place in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until the dressing has cooked through and the top has browned a little.
I served this as the side to an oven roasted chicken with some cranberry sauce; it was a TexMex mini Thanksgiving dinner.