< Southern Basics

All About Corn

The reason we Southerners love corn is because there are so many things you can do with it. Plus, there's so much of it! If there's one thing we know how to do in the South, it's to make the most of what's around us. Here are some of the basic corn dishes every Southern cook should know.

The Cornbread Debate

When it comes to cornbread, every family has their own spin on what makes the perfect recipe. Should you use white or yellow corn meal? Should you add sugar? Should it be thick or thin; round or square, baked in a cast iron skillet or cake pan? Of course, it all comes down to what you like, but here are a few regional preferences you might notice if you're traveling across the South:

  • For Southern purists, there is no sugar in the cornbread batter, white corn meal is preferred, and it always gets baked in a cast-iron skillet.
  • Folks from the Southwest tend to prefer unsweetened cornbread made with yellow corn meal and like to bake it in a square pan.
  • Everywhere else, people like their cornbread yellow and sweet.

At the end of the day, what's most important is that you keep the family cornbread tradition.

How to Make Cornbread Dressing

Ever wonder what the difference between dressing and stuffing is? The truth of the matter is they're the same thing... it all depends on what part of the South you're in. But no matter where you go, Southern cooks always prepare cornbread dressing in a separate pan.

In its simplest combination, cornbread dressing is a seasoned mixture of crumbled cornbread and wheat bread or biscuits, moistened with broth and then baked. But as simple as that seems, there are countless variations on the basic cornbread dressing. Here are a few things to consider before making a batch:

  • The cornbread: To have good cornbread dressing, you must have good cornbread. Although some people make a special cornbread for their dressing, most recipes simply call for crumbled cornbread. Use a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet to make crisp cornbread with any Martha White® Cornbread Mix for added texture and flavor.
  • Bread crumbles: Most cornbread dressing recipes call for some wheat bread, which makes the dressing hold together a little better than all cornbread. But you can use frozen leftover biscuits, white, whole-wheat, or French bread, or whatever you have on hand.
  • Texture: The texture of dressing is a personal preference. Texture is determined by how finely the bread is crumbled, by the proportion of cornbread to bread, and by the amount of broth used. The addition of eggs to the bread mixture makes the dressing hold together a little more.
  • Standard seasonings: Most traditional cornbread dressing recipes call for onions and celery sautéed in butter, along with chicken or turkey broth. Then, dried (not ground) sage is used to create a defining flavor.
  • Adding a unique spin: To create your own stylish dressing, try adding savory meats such as cooked sausage, country ham, or bacon. Then add in some fruits, such as chopped apples, raisins, dried apricots, or cranberries. Toasted pecans, walnuts, or pine nuts also add a nice flavor and texture. The addition of herbs and spices—such as nutmeg, fresh parsley, cayenne, thyme, rosemary, or marjoram—will also add interest to dressing.

Martha White Corn Meal and Cornbread Mixes

Martha White makes a corn meal and a cornbread mix to suit every taste—made from both white and yellow corn meal.