After meeting one of my food crushes, Crescent Dragonwagon, this summer, one of the greatest gifts has been staying in contact to see what she has cooking. Enjoy these Crescent recipes as much as I plan to! – Editor
First, A Little Cornbread
I know a lot of people make cornbread for Thanksgiving. For the dressing (if one is south of the Mason-Dixon Line) / stuffing (if North). And for itself, as a side, because what is as good as cornbread, especially if it is Skillet-Sizzled Buttermilk Cornbread?
I’m throwing no shade on yeast rolls or biscuits, but… cornbread, round and golden as the sun, and with its connection to the Native Americans, whose reverent savvy and ways with corn kept the colonists alive before and after the first Thanksgiving—well, cornbread is just hard to beat. One can also make it gluten-free (scroll down here to find my version of the terrific and gluten-free Ronni’s Appalachian Cornbread).
Which Leads To…Featherbed Eggs
As if that weren’t enough, cornbread is also the basis for the BEST day-after, do-ahead, brunch or breakfast dish known to man, woman, or prefer-not-to-say. That would be my famous Featherbed Eggs, and trust me, if you made an extra batch of cornbread for Thanksgiving, you will be sooooo happy to wake up, create Featherbed Eggs, and simply throw it in the oven, and even happier to eat it. Serve with salsa (preferably homemade, if you can find the energy for it) and your favorite breakfast meat or non-meat equivalent (I like Field Roast’s vegetarian Apple-Sage Sausages a lot) and some fresh fruit and lots of hot coffee or tea, and for God’s sake don’t talk politics, and I guarantee you will see out the holidays with plenty to be thankful for.
So make a double-batch of your chosen cornbread, gratefully. And then enjoy these Hollow House-style Featherbed Eggs.
Do-ahead tip which I guarantee you’ll thank me for: make the egg mixture 3 or 4 days in advance, putting it in a large mason jar or other container and stashing it in the fridge. Last thing before you go to bed on Thanksgiving night, put your saved cornbread crumbles in the oiled baking dish, pour the egg mixture over ’em, and stash the casserole, covered, in the fridge. Next morning, you’ll be so ready to roll. (Yes, you can bake this all in one dish, though we’ve pictured it in ramekins).
As long as you have the cornbread on hand, it’s not that big a deal to put the whole thing together in the morning.
A variation of this recipe first appeared in Dragonwagon’s The Cornbread Gospels.
Photograph: David R. Koff
A Little About Crescent
Crescent Dragonwagon, whose business cards give—truthfully—by way of address, “Arkansas / Vermont / New York / at large,” divides her time between these places, but presently calls Fayetteville, Arkansas, home. A renowned culinary writer (her Passionate Vegetarian won a James Beard Award), she also writes children’s books (such as her food-centric Alligator Arrived with Apples, a Thanksgiving Potluck Alphabet), as well as fiction and non-fiction for adults. To get a new Dragonwagon recipe each month, subscribe to her free blog, Deep Feast.
- 8 large eggs
- 2 cups milk
- Dash Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce
- Dash Worcestershire Sauce, vegetarian Worcestershire Sauce (such as Annie's) or Pickapeppa
- As needed oil, to grease baking dish
- 1 skillet's worth of either of the above cornbreads, crumbled into large chunks and left to dry out for at least an hour, or as long as overnight
- To taste salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1-3 tablespoons finely minced fresh or canned fire-roasted green chiles (optional but very good)
- 4 ounces Neufchâtel or cream cheese
- 1-1/2 cup (6 ounces) your favorite cheese, grated; ideally a nice Mexican blend (Monterrey Jack, Cotija, cheddar)
- 1 Do ahead: up to 3 or 4 days in advance, combine all egg mixture ingredients and place in a large mason jar. Refrigerate.
- 2 Do ahead: night before. Oil a single 14x11-inch shallow baking dish; or 8-10, 1 to 1-1/2-cup capacity ramekins with oil. Scatter the crumbled cornbread in the baking dish or dishes. Salt and pepper the crumbs, scatter green chiles over them, and dab here and there with teaspoonful-or-so size bits of cream or Neufchatel cheese. Scatter the grated cheese over all that, and pour the egg mixture (give it a good shake first, to recombine) over the cornbread mix in its baking dish or ramekins (place ramekins on a baking sheet for easier transfer). Cover tightly.
- 3 When ready to bake the Featherbeds, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (If you did not prep all in advance, do it now, while the oven preheats. See? Told you it wasn't that big a deal). When oven is up to temp, uncover the Featherbeds. Pop the baking dish or baking sheet loaded with ramekins into the oven.
- 4 Bake until eggs are set and slightly puffed (enjoy this showy puff, but know that it will sink). The top will be golden brown, and the kitchen filled with a scrumptious aroma. This will take about 30 minutes for a large casserole, 20 minutes for ramekins; add about 5 minutes cooking time if you've prepped and refrigerated in advance. Don't over-bake.