Crispy, crunchy cornbread dressing

Ann Maloney

THE WASHINGTON POST – If you love the crispy top and crunchy corners from a dish of dressing, you owe it to yourself to make a batch using a sheet pan.

For this cornbread dressing, the bread is lightly toasted and tossed together with diced vegetables, herbs, cream, broth and egg and then spread evenly on a large, rimmed baking sheet and slipped into the oven.

It bakes quickly, and the result is a crusty top with a layer of moist dressing below.

Even if you cut the soft, moist cornbread into chunks and bake it in the oven until crispy, it will largely fall apart as you stir the ingredients together. That’s why I also include a smaller amount of white bread, cut into one-inch pieces, and baked until dry and crispy. It gives the dressing more texture.

The vegetables are not precooked, so to ensure that you don’t end up with undercooked bits, it is best to finely chop those ingredients, such as the scallions, onion and celery.

Sheet Pan Cornbread Dressing. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

I love the combination of thyme and sage, but if you don’t, substitute with your favourite seasoning blend, because this simple cornbread dressing can be easily altered to suit your taste.

If you like it sweet, use sweetened cornbread or add sugar. If you prefer spicy kick, add a pinch more cayenne or mince a seeded jalapeño and stir it into the mixture before baking. Add crumbled crisp bacon or well-cooked sausage bits, if you like.

Keep in mind that the dressing will be a bit drier than most that are baked in a casserole dish or made on the stove.

If it is too dry, that can be easily remedied by sprinkling additional cream or broth on top and tossing the cooked dressing together before serving.

A bonus: The slender baking sheet may fit in your oven above or beneath other dishes, allowing you to cook multiple dishes at once.

SHEET PAN CORNBREAD DRESSING

Active time: 20 minutes | Total time: 50 minutes

Eight to 10 servings

Storage Notes: Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to four days. If the dressing is too dry when reheating, add a splash of cream or broth to moisten.

INGREDIENTS

10 cups cornbread, broken or cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Three cups 1/2-inch cubed rustic white bread

One cup finely chopped celery

Half cup finely chopped yellow onion

Half cup finely chopped scallions

Two large eggs

Three-quarter cup heavy cream, or more as needed

Three cloves garlic, finely grated or minced

Two teaspoons rubbed sage

Half teaspoon dried thyme

Half teaspoon kosher salt

Half teaspoon cayenne pepper

Two and a half cups low-sodium turkey or low-sodium chicken broth, or more if needed

Cooking spray or neutral oil, for greasing the baking sheet

Two tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

STEPS

Position a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Spread out the cornbread and white bread on a large, rimmed baking sheet and toast them for about 10 minutes, or until crispy.

In a large bowl, combine the celery, onion, scallions, eggs, heavy cream, garlic, sage, thyme, salt and cayenne. Add the toasted bread, pour the broth over everything and, as gently as possible, toss together until well combined. The dressing should be wet and all of the bread moistened, but not soupy. Add more cream or stock, one tablespoon at a time, if the mixture is dry or crumbly.

Remove any crumbs from the baking sheet pan used to toast the bread and grease it with cooking spray or oil. Spread the mixture evenly over the prepared sheet and dot with butter. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned.

Use sweetened cornbread, or add one tablespoon granulated sugar to the bowl, if you want a sweet cornbread dressing.

NUTRITION (based on 10 servings)

Calories: 321; Total Fat: 16g; Saturated Fat: 8g; Cholesterol: 105mg; Sodium: 612mg; Carbohydrates: 35g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 11g; Protein: 8g