Dressing, served with turkey or chicken, is an emotional subject in the South. I have known people who wanted it to have the consistency of mush and won’t eat it if they can perceive the presence of celery or onions in the texture.
My family is a chunky dressing family. I don’t have Mother’s recipe because she didn’t use one, but I do remember how she made the dressing for Thanksgiving dinner and how tasty it was.
Step one was to make a pan of cornbread, and step two to make a pan of biscuits. She boiled a couple of eggs, chopped celery and onions, and crumbled the cornbread and biscuits together in a huge bowl. Then she added the eggs, celery, and onions to the bread mixture, following with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper, and just enough broth to make it all stick together. She tasted it to make sure the seasonings were at the right level. Then she spread it in a large pan and baked it in the oven until it was warm through and browned.
While the dressing was browning Mother made giblet gravy. She had boiled the turkey neck and giblets to make the base for the gravy. Then she chopped the giblets, adding them back to the broth with what little meat came off the turkey neck. The gravy also had chopped boiled eggs, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper, and sometimes a little flour to thicken it if I’m remembering right.
For me the turkey was definitely an afterthought. At Thanksgiving dinner I’d fill my plate with dressing smothered in gravy, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, green bean casserole, fresh cranberry relish, and a small slice of turkey. Yum! It’s all about the sides. The dressing was even more of a treat because Mother was convinced it would go bad quickly, so we only got to have leftovers of it the next day.
Occasionally Mother would make a smaller batch of dressing to go with a roasted chicken. It was a lot of trouble because of the initial baking involved before construction of the dressing began, but it sure was good!