George Vanderbilt's Favorite Turkey and Cornbread Dressing
Biltmore Reserve North Carolina Chardonnay
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The Vanderbilts were known for their hospitality as well as holiday celebrations that highlighted the ultimate in food and wine for their guests. What did George and Edith Vanderbilt like to eat on special occasions? Our menu book indicates their enjoyment of baked turkey with cornbread dressing prepared by Ellen Johnson, an Asheville local who translated traditional Appalachian recipes into favored fare at Biltmore House.
Preparation Time: 4 hours
- 20-25 lb. turkey
- Cornbread - prepared
- 6 buttermilk biscuits - prepared
- 1 dozen hardboiled eggs
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1/4 cup ground sage
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Turkey: Rinse turkey and rub with salt inside and out. Using a large boiler or cooker, place turkey in enough water to almost cover it (one gallon or more). Heat to boiling point and cook on medium for about 2 1/2 hours or until breast is tender; use a ladle to baste broth over the breast meat to keep it moist.
Cornbread Dressing: Bake a large pan of cornbread using your favorite cornbread recipe. Bake about six buttermilk biscuits using your favorite recipe, or purchase frozen biscuits and bake. Peel eggs and chop or grate them into large mixing bowl. Add onions, celery, sage, salt, and pepper. Crumble cornbread and biscuits into bowl. When turkey is done, pour turkey broth over the cornbread dressing until the desired consistency is reached. Mix well, using plenty of broth so that dressing will be moist and soft when done. Place turkey in center of large baking pan. Spoon dressing into and around turkey. Bake in 425-degree oven for about 45 minutes. If turkey browns too soon, cover with aluminum foil.