So, what do you say, dressing or stuffing?
Technically, it’s dressing if it’s cooked in a pan and stuffing if it’s cooked inside the bird. However, which word you choose seems to have more to do with where you come from: Midwestern or Southern folks often call it dressing, regardless of where it’s cooked, and Northeasterners lean toward the term stuffing, even if it never saw the inside of the turkey.
You can certainly cook this stuffing in the turkey if you want, but I rather love it in a pan, so the top gets crispy and browned. Or do a little of each method if your gang is divided.
Crumbling the cornbread and letting it sit out for a day allows it to dry slightly, which prevents the stuffing/dressing from baking up heavy and possibly soggy. The somewhat dried cornbread will then be able to soak up the moisture and flavor of the rest of the ingredients and stay on the lighter side.
The types of mushrooms you can use in this recipe are limitless. Use the ones that appeal, the ones that are on sale, the ones that fit into your budget. You can absolutely use only inexpensive button mushrooms, but it’s great to mix in some delicious and chewy (but pricier) shiitakes. If you’re splurging (or if you have a friend knowledgeable about mushroom foraging), go for all wild mushrooms.
You can also mix in some browned and crumbled sausage or some crumbled crispy bacon or pancetta for extra flavor. (Add any additional salt judiciously if you do that, as the pork will add some saltiness).
Use vegetable broth if you want this to be vegetarian-friendly. Skip the cream if anyone in your world is vegan or can’t have dairy — the stuffing will still be fabulous.
MUSHROOM CORNBREAD STUFFING OR DRESSING
Start to finish: 1 hour 30 minutes (not including baking , crumbling and drying the cornbread)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 pound button mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
2 teaspoons fresh thyme or sage leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme or sage
Coarse or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 9-by-9-inch pan cornbread, crumbled (about 7 cups) and left to sit on a baking sheet for one day
1 to 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup cream
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, and thyme or sage. Season with salt and pepper and saute everything until the all the liquid is evaporated (the mushrooms will release liquid as they start to cook) and the vegetables are all tender and lightly browned, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the wine and saute for another couple of minutes until it is almost evaporated.
In a large bowl, place the crumbled cornbread and drizzle over it 1 cup of the broth and the cream (feel free also to drizzle up to 1/2 cup of turkey drippings if available and desired). Toss well. Add the vegetables and toss to combine. If the mixture still seems dry, add in as much as another 1/2 cup of the chicken broth.
Turn the mixture into the prepared baking pan and cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes or so until the stuffing is cooked through and the top is browned and crispy.