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Norma Jean's Chicken And Dressing Casserole

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Last Modified: November 5, 2023
Published: November 5, 2023

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It's Not Thanksgiving For Us Without It

chicken and dressing casserole

This chicken and dressing casserole recipe has been a family favorite for over 30 years. A brimming panful of this dish is essential to a successful Thanksgiving feast in our family, and it's simply not optional.

This is the one food our family looks forward to the most on Thanksgiving, even the ones who would greatly prefer we serve ham instead of turkey.

It all began years ago when my husband's beautiful cousin Norma Jean, a legendary cook, taught me how to make her legendary chicken and dressing casserole. It's a great do-ahead dish you can make a day or two before so your kitchen is less overloaded on the big day.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and we can't wait! We all love a lazy Thanksgiving! There is no stress or pressure on Thanksgiving. We just love to hang out, eat, make a Christmas craft, nap, eat some more, and go to a movie.

The Big Question

Do you call it stuffing or dressing at your house? When I was a kid, moms everywhere made stuffing the same way. Traditionally, cooks added chopped-up gizzards, liver, and turkey neck to a mixture of bread, onions, and celery. Then, it was all stuffed inside the Thanksgiving turkey and roasted with the bird.

I thought it was the grossest thing ever. I cringed when I watched Mom dig it back out of the turkey's rear end and put it in a bowl, and I still think it's gross. This recipe is NOT that kind of stuffing.

If you are a fan of turkey liver and giblets in your dressing/stuffing, you probably don't want to give this one a try. But this has proved to be a dish even picky young kids eat up!

How Turkey Dressing Began

It seems that stuffing a turkey goes way back to the first Thanksgiving. Historians believe the Pilgrims made a wild rice mixture to put inside the bird while it cooked. Over time, they added chestnuts and oysters to the stuffing.

A hundred and some years after Jamestown, the prudish Victorians shuddered at the vulgar term "stuffing." They declared everyone would call it "dressing" henceforth.

Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, follows a recipe from her late mother-in-law called Thanksgiving Stuffing/Dressing, so there you have it! It seems everyone is conflicted about what to call it!

The confusion continues. The packaged bread mixture we use to make it is labeled "stuffing mix." And the instant kind you can buy in a box is called "stovetop stuffing. "But it's doubtful you will ever find that inside a bird. Go figure.

I  always use Pepperidge Farm Classic Stuffing in the bag trimmed in blue. They don't pay me to say so, but there's nothing as good on the grocer's shelves—the end.

The Best Stuffing/Dressing Is Made With Pepperidge Farm

This chicken and dressing casserole is easy and quick to put together. I've been serving this dish for over 30 years, and last year was the first time I used an Instant Pot to make it. In the past, I simmered chicken breasts with celery and onion in a big stockpot.

The great aroma was always part of my Thanksgiving preparations. And it would still work just fine to do it that way. However, that day, I had frozen chicken at noon and a plan to serve part of it for dinner that night.

I'm sure many of you find yourself with frozen meat when it's time to make dinner. Would you please say I'm not the only one?

starting chicken and dressing casserole

I used bone-in chicken breasts with the skin on, and they were still frozen solid as a rock. Right from the freezer, I put them in the pot with half a large onion cut into chunks.

Then, I threw in the large outer stalks from a package of celery, leaves and all, cut into four-inch chunks. Two cups of water and a generous amount of seasoned pepper were the only other ingredients.

Here's How To Make Chicken And Dressing Casserole

The cooked chicken smelled great, and I easily removed the skin and bones and chopped the tender white meat into a casserole dish.

chicken in casserole dish

Next, I used a wide-slotted spoon to remove all the broth's cooked vegetables and discard them. You could also puree the vegetables and make a delicious cream soup!

I set the Instant Pot to the saute setting. A stick of butter, some parsley, and two heaping tablespoons of my favorite paste-type chicken bouillon (Hint: it's Better Than Bouillon brand, you have to get some!) went into the Instant Pot. I let it all simmer until the butter melted and added enough water to make about three cups of broth.

While the broth simmered, I dumped the whole bag of stuffing on top of the chicken in the casserole dish. Finally, I ladled the broth over the chicken and bread mixture, stirring it lightly until it was absorbed and the chicken and dressing casserole ingredients were evenly mixed and moistened. It should be moist, not soggy. Yes, that broth tastes every bit as good as it looks!

ladling broth on chicken and dressing casserole

Last, I added more parsley and covered the dish with foil. All that the chicken and dressing casserole needs is a short time in the oven for everything to get nice and warm, then it's ready to serve!

Do-ahead hint: You can stop now, put the foil-covered casserole in the fridge, and reheat it on the big day. Make sure the foil stays nice and tight. If it seems dry, sparingly add a little more chicken broth, milk, or cream. Say no to soggy!

Yield: 16 servings

Norma Jean's Chicken And Dressing Casserole

turkey dressing

A delicious chicken and dressing casserole made outside the bird but works great with everything on your Thanksgiving table! meaty enough to be a main dish on its own.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds bone-in chicken breast with skin on. 
  • One 12-ounce package Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing
  • 6 large outer stalks of celery, leaves and all, cut into approximately 4" chunks
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • Seasoned pepper to taste. Be generous. I recommend Lawry's brand.
  • 1 stick butter, 1/2 cup
  • 2 heaping Tablespoons paste-type chicken bouillon. I recommend Better Than Bouillon brand.
  • Lots of Parsley
  • Water enough to cover chicken if cooking on the stove. About 2 cups if using an Instant Pot.

Instructions

  1. Combine chicken, celery, onion, and seasoned pepper in an Instant Pot.
  2. Add 2 cups of water and pressure cook on high for 45 minutes, then let the pressure drop naturally.
  3. Remove the chicken from the pot. Remove the bones and skin. Chop or shred the chicken meat and put it in a greased 13" x 9" casserole dish or baking pan.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to remove all the vegetables from the broth and discard them, or puree them and use them as you like.
  5. You will need about 3 cups of broth. You may need to add water.
  6. Set Instant Pot to saute setting. Put butter, bouillon, and parsley in the broth and simmer until the butter is melted.
  7. Empty the bag of stuffing mix on top of the chicken in the casserole dish.
  8. Ladle the broth over the chicken and stuffing. Fluff lightly with a fork until everything is evenly moistened and mixed together. Top with more parsley.
  9. The mixture should be moist but not soggy. If it seems dry, you can make more broth to add or use milk.
  10. It is all fully cooked and ready to eat now. Cover with foil and heat in a low oven until nice and warm.
  11. You can make this a day or two ahead and refrigerate. Reheat in a low oven, covered, until nice and warm.

Notes

You can certainly simmer the chicken in a stock pot until it's nice and tender! I did it that way for thirty years before I got an InstantPot!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

16

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 249Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 93mgSodium: 271mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 3gSugar: 1gProtein: 31g

I hope you give this chicken and dressing casserole a try. It's been a favorite of four generations in our family, and it would make me so happy to know if you enjoy it, too. There is so much chicken in this recipe it can stand alone as a main dish. This dressing tastes absolutely amazing with my Homemade Red Cabbage!

What are the foods that are must-haves on your Thanksgiving table? We always love hearing about other families and their holiday traditions, so I hope you'll share yours with us!

If you liked this recipe, you are my people! If you like this recipe, please share it on your social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter! It would sure tickle me, and I would be ever so grateful!

If you haven't already, please look for me on Facebook and Pinterest, where I will share easy, delicious, family-friendly recipes every week!

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