Southwestern style herbed cornbread turkey stuffing

This is the traditional McGarvey family dressing for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. It originated with my maternal grandmother in southern Virginia and evolved through her moves to Texas, Oklahoma and California and further evolved through my military family's moves all over the world. The recipe includes making 1 batch of cornbread and 1 batch of turkey broth. Directions are given for both stuffing the bird and baking the dressing separately.


(Serves 8)





Procedure (cornbread)

  1. The night before, make the cornbread. Preheat oven to
  2. Thinly coat the bottom of a standard Pyrex pie plate, or 9-inch square baking pan, with vegetable oil. Put pan in oven while it is preheating and you are mixing the cornbread batter.
  3. In a mixing bowl, blend together the cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking powder.
  4. Stir in the egg and 3 Tbsp vegetable oil.
  5. Add milk and mix thoroughly by hand. The consistency should be a thick, but not "doughy", liquid. It may be necessary to add a little more milk.
  6. Pour into preheated pan and bake for 30 minutes or until slightly brown on top.
  7. Let cool in pan for 30 minutes. Remove from pan and break up into very large chunks in a large mixing bowl.
  8. Let stand overnight, uncovered. This will ensure that it is dry and stale.

Procedure (turkey broth)

The night before, make the turkey broth.
  1. Bring 12 cups of water to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Thoroughly rinse turkey neck, giblets and gizzard.
  3. Add turkey parts, onion, celery leaves and celery stalk to water, cover, and reduce heat to a low simmer.
  4. Simmer on very low heat for 2 hours.
  5. Strain the broth, cover, cool quickly, and refrigerate.

Procedure (dressing)

30 minutes before you are ready to stuff the turkey, make the dressing.
  1. Crumble the stale cornbread in the very largest bowl you can find.
  2. Add the herbed bread cubes and mix thoroughly by hand.
  3. Add the rice and mix thoroughly by hand.
  4. Briefly sautae the onions and celery in butter just enough to make the vegetables translucent.
  5. Sautae the mushrooms in butter or margarine until all the resulting liquid has evaporated.
  6. Add the sautaeed onions, celery, and mushrooms, and mix thoroughly.
  7. Add the pecans and mix thoroughly.
  8. Season with salt, pepper, sage and thyme to taste.
  9. Bring the turkey broth to the boil and boil for a minute or two to make sure it is sterile. If you are going to stuff the turkey, add just enough turkey broth to barely moisten the dressing.
  10. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  11. Very loosely stuff the abdominal cavity and breast cavity with dressing. Do not pack it in tightly. It needs room to expand. You are going to be cooking some more dressing in a baking pan beside the turkey, so there will be plenty to go around.
  12. Secure neck cavity opening with one or more poultry skewers. The abdominal cavity may be left open or (if your butcher cleaned the turkey properly and left a flap of skin) secured with poultry skewers.
  13. Add enough boiling broth to the remaining dressing to moisten it uniformly. Do not over-moisten. The baked dressing should be barely moist, not gummy-wet.
  14. Spoon dressing into uncoated baking pans. Cover with foil/plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.
  15. One half hour before serving dinner, bake dressing, uncovered, at for 30 minutes.


This recipe makes enough dressing to stuff a 15-pound turkey and fill 2 9-inch-square baking pans.

Never stuff the turkey until you are ready to roast it. Cooking lore is rife with horror stories of food poisoning resulting from turkeys stuffed too early and let sit while wonderful organisms develop in the stuffing. Make sure you bring the turkey broth to a boil before you use it, just to make sure that nothing is growing in it. The stuffing inside a turkey does not reach a high enough temperature to kill bacteria while the turkey is roasting, so you must be extremely careful with what you put there.

I like to use Pepperidge Farm brand herbed bread cubes.

I use a huge ceramic bowl (large enough for "rising" a 4-loaf recipe of bread dough) in which to mix the dressing. If you don't have one handy, you can use your kitchen sink. Clean and rinse the sink thoroughly, then put in the stopper and use as a mixing bowl.

If you are going to stuff the turkey, be sure that you don't overmoisten the dressing. The stuffing will absorb a lot of moisture from the bird, and who wants a turkey with stuffing soup? Also, be sure to not over-stuff the turkey: the stuffing will expand during the roasting and it needs room to expand.

12 cups of turkey broth is at least double the amount of liquid necessary to moisten the dressing. If you use all of it, you will not have a relatively light, dry dressing. The extra broth should be used in making turkey gravy or can be the base stock for making turkey soup with the carcass. If you're not up to making turkey broth, you can substitute chicken broth, but this is a great way to use the neck and gizzard.

No quantities of the herbs are given because you can make this as spicy or as mild as you like. We like ours heavy on the sage and thyme.


Difficulty: moderate.
Time: several hours, spread over 2 days.
Precision: measure the cornbread ingredients.


Pamela McGarvey 
UCLA Comprehensive Epilepsy Program, Los Angeles, Calif., USA 
Recipe last modified: 14 Nov 86

Original header

Path: decwrl!recipes
From: pam@cepu (Pamela McGarvey)
Newsgroups: mod.recipes
Subject: RECIPE: Herbed cornbred turkey stuffing and dressing
Message-ID: <6520@decwrl.DEC.COM>
Date: 21 Nov 86 04:43:28 GMT
Sender: recipes@decwrl.DEC.COM
Organization: UCLA Comprehensive Epilepsy Project, Los Angeles, Calif., USA
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Approved: reid@decwrl.UUCP
Replied: Forwarded 14 Nov 86 23:47

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