Corn bread dressing
Total time: 45 minutes plus chilling time
Servings: Makes about 6 cups
Note: Adapted from "Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen." He writes, "Cajuns like their cornbreads and dressings sweet, so the crumbled cornbread we start with in this dish is sweet. If you prefer less sweet dressings, make your cornbread without sugar."
1 pound bacon, cut into a half-inch dice
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper
1 teaspoon ground red pepper (preferably cayenne)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup finely chopped onions
3/4 cup finely chopped green bell peppers
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 bay leaves
2/3 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste
5 cups finely crumbled corn bread
3/4 cup evaporated milk
3 eggs, beaten
1. In a large skillet heated over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon, discarding or reserving the bacon fat for another use. Set the bacon aside in a paper-towel-lined bowl.
2. In a small bowl, combine the salt, white pepper, ground red pepper, black pepper, oregano, onion powder and thyme to form a seasoning mix. Set aside.
3. In a large skillet heated over medium-high heat, melt the butter and stir in the onions, bell peppers, celery, garlic and bay leaves. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are bright and aromatic, about 2 minutes. Stir in the seasoning mix and continue cooking until the vegetables are barely wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bacon, broth and Tabasco and cook for 5 minutes to marry the flavors, stirring frequently.
4. Remove from heat and stir in the corn bread, milk and eggs, stirring well. Remove the dressing to a baking dish, cover and refrigerate until chilled before stuffing. (To bake the dressing on its own, increase the evaporated milk to 1 2/3 cups [1 13-ounce can] and spoon the dressing into a greased 13-inch-by-9-inch baking dish; bake at 350 degrees until browned on top, about 35 to 40 minutes.)
Each one-half cup dressing: 346 calories; 11 grams protein; 23 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 23 grams fat; 11 grams saturated fat; 120 mg. cholesterol; 5 grams sugar; 1,041 mg. sodium.