Teeny's Hen and Dressing

From the kitchen of: Candace Schlosser, managing editor. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter wouldn't be the same without my grandmother Christine Higginbotham's Hen and Dressing. Teeny's signature dressing is really rich and moist, with lots of sage. Until now, the recipe has never been written down, but she cooked it every holiday for as long as I can remember, and many years before that. Though Teeny traditionally used hen, the last few years of her life she switched to broiler-fryers because she felt they're more tender. She was adamant about having the chicken in the dressing and making sure there was plenty of dark meat for added flavor and moistness. She liked the celery and onion crunchy, so she didn't sauté them but poured the hot broth directly on the vegetables to soften them slightly before baking. She also loved sage, so she always used plenty; feel free to adjust to your taste.

Prep: 45 minutes; Cook: 1 hour; Bake: 45 minutes.

Yield: Makes 10 to 12 servings
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Ingredients

  • 1 (3-pound) hen or whole fryer chicken
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 8 cups Cornbread, crumbled
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely diced celery
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage or 1 to 2 tablespoons dried sage
  • 2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

Preparation

  1. 1. Rinse hen under running water, remove giblets, and place hen in a Dutch oven with enough water to cover. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 1 hour. Remove hen from pot, and keep liquid warm. Pull meat from bone once hen cools, and discard carcass. Tear meat into small pieces (about 3 cups).
  2. 2. Preheat oven to 350°. Crumble Cornbread into a large bowl. Add onion and celery, sage, remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and remaining 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring reserved cooking liquid to a boil, and stir 4 cups into mixture, 1 cup at a time. Dressing should be loose but not gummy. Add more cooking liquid as needed. Lightly stir in chicken and egg.
  3. 3. Spoon dressing into a 13- x 9-inch baking dish, and bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until heated through and slightly browned on top. To make ahead, cover dressing and refrigerate up to 2 days before baking.
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