"I learned my chicken and dressin' from Sis. Her real name was Maudie, and she and Daddy was first cousins. She was bad to cuss. Everything was blankety-blank this and blankety-blank that. But my God she could cook. She had cooked in restaurants but that ain't where she learned. She learned from her people, what we called the Georgia people, because they was from Rome. Back then, William (her big brother) had this rooster, and it was mean and it would peck Sis. Every time she went out to hang out the clothes it would peck her legs. Well, William would always eat with Sis, because she was such a good cook. One night she made a big pan of dressing. 'Sis, this is the best chicken and dressing I ever had,' he told her. And Sis said, 'Well, it ought to be. It's your damn rooster.'" --Margaret Bragg
6 or 7 chicken thighs, skin on
1 large iron skillet of cornbread (or enough to fill a 9- x 13-inch pan)
2 cups (or so) of chicken broth
1 egg, beaten
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sage ("Do not ruin it with sage. Too much and it's all you taste.")
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (also contains sage)
How to Make It
Boil chicken in salted water until done, "till it's so tender it falls off the bone." (Boil for at least 1 hour.) Chicken legs can be substituted. Chicken breasts can also be substituted, "but it ain't as good," Mama says. Break the chicken into small pieces, but do NOT shred. Be careful to discard small pieces of bone and gristle, but do NOT discard the skin. "That's where your flavor is."
In a large bowl, break up cooked cornbread into small pieces; gradually stir in the chicken broth, mixing until you have a moist, pudding-like consistency. Stir in chicken, beaten egg, onion, celery, and seasonings. Pour into iron skillet. A pan is fine, if you are a Philistine.
Bake in preheated oven at 375º until the top of the dressing is crisp and golden brown and the inside is creamy. (This could be anywhere from a half hour to 45 minutes, depending on the oven.) A spoon should make a faint cracking noise as it breaks the surface of the dressing.
Serve with green beans, mashed potatoes, and cabbage-and-carrot slaw.