If you thought that I was going to say that I don’t like Thanksgiving food, share one recipe and then bow out of the turkey day food madness with one quick turn, you have predicted incorrectly. I will actually be sharing two more recipes (including this one), but none of them will be for a turkey. I have no idea when or if I’ll ever roast a whole turkey in my life–I’m sure I will for some holiday down the road– but that is way too much food for the two people (including me) that I feed. I don’t have a turkey, but I have a couple of things to go along with it.
First up is dressing balls. I was clicking through imgur yesterday and landed on a 20 year history of Thanksgiving foods for the past twenty years online, and I learned that dressing instead of stuffing is a relatively new preference. (I actually googled “20 year history of Thanksgiving foods” and found this, which is what I saw on imgur.) In 2006, a report came out declaring that stuffing in the cavity of the bird may not get hot enough to kill germs that could lead to salmonella, so cooks started to prepare dressing, which is the same as stuffing but doesn’t stuff anything but a casserole dish.
I’ve never had stuffing from the bird– I’ve only ever had dressing, and I’ve seen a lot of dressing balls at all times of the year, not just around Thanksgiving. My mom loves dressing balls. I’m pretty sure they’re her favorite food; she’ll eat them for breakfast. She says that she just “loves the sage” and digs on in. Although I wouldn’t recommend serving dressing balls for your Thanksgiving day breakfast, I do think they’d be a nice addition to your dinner table.
Dressing balls are basically the ultimate savory food: Cornbread and gravy mixed with sage and enough celery and onion to add some flavor and crunch. They’re easy; all you do is mix it together and then form portion-controlled balls (but no one’s stopping you from eating just one). And they’re just as good left over so you can definitely make them a day or two before the big day.
So go ahead, make some cornbread today (it only takes 25 minutes), put together the dressing balls tomorrow, and worry about one less thing to prepare for the next two days. You can heat up the dressing balls in the oven, making them crispy on the outside and better to soak up more gravy, or just for a minute or two in the microwave. It’s simple, good and classic.
Note: You want the celery and onion to be minced very well– you don’t cook them. The hot gravy cooks them when you pour it over the mixtures. If you think that your celery and onion may not be small enough to fully cook, add them to the gravy and cook for a minute or two, and then dump it all into the cornbread mixture.
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth OR homemade turkey broth
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 recipe cornbread, crumbled
6 slices white bread, crusts removed and cut into ½ inch squares
¾ cup celery, minced
½ medium onion, minced
1 teaspoon ground sage
1. Toss together the cornbread, celery, onion, sage, and a few good shakes of salt and pepper.
2. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat broth over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour, and continue to stir until the gravy boils and thickens, about 5 minutes once boiling to cook the flour.
3. Pour the gravy over the cornbread mixture, and stir to combine. Using a ½ cup measure, shape the dressing into balls. Serve, or store in the refrigerator for later.