Southwestern Cornbread Dressing

Doc started his annual fall business last weekend. Squirrel relocation services. Now that the weather is cooler, the squirrels are out in full force trying to break into our garage attic. He tried to block them from all their ports of entry with boards and chicken wire. One smart critter got past all his roadblocks. Doc moved to phase two of the plan. Live animal traps. He always releases the squirrels in a location where they must cross a body of water in order to get home! He is hoping the pesky fellow won’t find his way back!
This morning the dog was staring at the garage ceiling… I think we have another visitor!

Southwestern Cornbread Dressing

Two 6 ounce packages of cornbread mix prepared according to package directions and baked in a 10 1/2 inch cast iron skillet or a 9 inch square pan. Note: Please use unsweetened cornbread. I used Martha White Cotton Country Cornbread mix.
1 small jalapeño pepper
3 serrano chili peppers
5 to 6 green onions
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup real bacon pieces (I used Hormel) or 4 slices bacon, crumbled
2 eggs
1 to 1 1/3 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups shredded cheese, Mexican style 4 cheese blend

Wash the jalapeño pepper, serrano peppers and green onions.  Place on a foil lined jelly roll pan. Reserve. Prepare cornbread according to package directions. Bake the cornbread and roast the vegetables at the same time on different racks in the oven. (The temperature should be around 450 degrees F). Roast vegetables for 10 to 15 minutes until the peppers are blistered and the green onions are wilted. Remove vegetables from oven. Place the jalapeño and serrano peppers in a ziplock bag. Seal the bag. Wait 15 minutes. Remove the skin, stem and seeds from the peppers. Dice peppers and green onions.
When cornbread is done, remove from pan and place on a plate or wire rack until cool enough to handle.

In a large bowl place the vegetables, cilantro, salt, pepper, bacon, eggs and 1 cup of the chicken broth. Stir until everything is incorporated. In the same bowl crumble the cornbread. Sprinkle cheese on top of the cornbread. Gently fold cornbread and cheese into the other ingredients. (If you get too zealous you will have mush!) Add up to 1/3 cup more chicken broth if needed.  Spoon into a non-stick sprayed glass or ceramic casserole dish. Bake on 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until hot and golden brown on top.

Published in The News and Neighbor on October 6, 2012

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