Your Grandmother’s Dressing (this is the real deal)

Here’s the real deal.  This handwritten recipe is your Grandmother’s dressing recipe.  The picture was provided by a reliable source and confirmed as authentic.  Note the date of the copy, November 2001.

Well the mystery is solved.  But when I’ve made Grandmother’s recipe it was never this one.  It was (Not) Your Grandmother’s Thanksgiving Dressing.  See?  You can change traditions while remaining traditional.

And the cornbread had to have been Jiffy.

 

Aunt Charlene’s Cornbread Dressing

  • 1 pan cornbread
  • 1 large loaf white bread (no heels)
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • broth from boiling neck, gizzards, and liver of the turkey
  • canned chicken broth, as needed

My wife’s Aunt Charlene was a hell of a cook.  After Aunt Charlene passed her granddaughter compiled a booklet of family favorite recipes.  This dressing recipe was the first recipe listed.  At Thanksgiving this year I asked several family members to tell me what ingredients were in the annual dressing.  Well, this is what Sherlock uncovered:

  1. Before the age of convenience, packaged seasoned dressing mix was not used.  Just an old simple loaf of white bread and sage, salt, and pepper.
  2. Somewhere down the line packaged dressing mix replaced the plain white bread.
  3. Three eggs!!!  ugh…
  4. The gizzard broth gets used for gravy and not the dressing.

And there you go.  The annual Thanksgiving dressing recipe is now (Not) Your Grandmother’s Thanksgiving Dressing because I think Charlene’s recipe was identical to your Grandmother’s dressing recipe.

An unconfirmed recollection from an unreliable source noted Grandmother probably used Jiffy cornbread mix.  If you don’t know Jiffy it was a a small box mix to which you added eggs, milk, and baked.  Boom.  Cornbread.

Fascinating to see how traditional family recipes change yet curiously remain the same.

(Not) Your Grandmother’s Thanksgiving Dressing

  • One Texas Corn Bread recipe
  • Two 14 ounce packages dry traditional seasoned stuffing mix
  • One large sweet onion, diced
  • 2-3 stalks celery, diced
  • one stick butter
  • 1-2 quarts chicken broth, low sodium
  • Sage, thyme, salt and pepper
  1. Prepare a dish of Texas Corn Bread the night before you make the dressing.  Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.  Saute the onion and celery until soft, about five minutes.
  3. Cut the corn bread into large cubes.
  4. In a very large mixing bowl gently mix the corn bread, dried stuffing mix, vegetables and chicken broth.  Add herbs, salt, and pepper to taste.
  5. Transfer dressing to a very large baking pan.
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until heated through.

This is really not your Grandmother’s recipe but a close approximation.  I know it’s not the “real thing” because Grandmother (yours not mine) didn’t make a fresh tray of Texas Corn Bread for her dressing.  I have no idea what corn bread she used but the important take away is you want a 50/50 ratio between corn bread and dried stuffing mix.  Grandmother also added a couple of beaten eggs and some neck meat to her dressing.  I prefer to leave these ingredients out but the family won’t let me.

Cheats and Tips – Use Pepperidge Farm dried stuffing mix.  If you don’t Grandmother will hurt you.  If you are pressed for time substitute corn bread from a bakery.  If you are pressed for time AND lazy, Pep Farm has corn bread stuffing mix.  One stick of butter may not be enough and three may be too much.  You can always add more melted butter but once you add it, you can’t take it out.  With the chicken broth allow the texture to be your guide.  You want your dressing moist but not too soggy if you know what I mean and I think you do.  Go easy at first with your herbs, salt, and pepper.  Remember the dried stuffing mix is already seasoned and the broth will have sodium in it as well.

Is it dressing or is it stuffing?

Dressing because you don’t want to stuff the cavity of the bird for a number of reasons.  I’ve always baked my dressing in a separate pan.  And speaking of pans, you might need more than one baking pan.  This recipe makes a lot of dressing.

And while we’re sort of on the topic of Thanksgiving don’t forget the Squash Casserole.

Baked French Toast

“I’ll take a loaf of challah please.”

“Sorry, we just ran out 10 minutes ago.”

“You must have had quite a few people buying challah this morning.”

“No.  We only made one loaf for the morning.”

This really happened at a bakery contained within one of those fancy we sell you everything type of grocery stores.  It was a Saturday morning.  I came to the store specifically for this type of bread.  So this little story explains how a loaf brioche got into this recipe now adapted from a recipe of nearly the same name by the Steep Acres Farm B&B somewhere in Oregon.

Seriously.  Why does a bakery make one loaf of bread?

  1. One stick butter
  2. Half cup brown sugar
  3. Half cup pure maple syrup
  4. One cup chopped pecans
  5. Eight large eggs
  6. One and a half cups of half and half
  7. One and a half tsp cinnamon
  8. One tsp vanilla extract
  9. One loaf brioche sliced thick

Heat butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup in a saucepan over medium heat until melted and smooth.  Transfer to a 13 x 9 x 2 glass baking dish.  Sprinkle pecans.

Whisk the eggs, half and half, cinnamon, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.  Dip bread slices into the mixture and arrange in a single layer in the baking dish.  Pour the remaining egg mixture over the bread slices, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, take the dish out of the refrigerator a minimum of thirty minutes prior to baking.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake the dish uncovered until it becomes golden brown and puffy.  This will take between 35 and 40 minutes.  It will be done when a knife stuck in the center of the puffiest part comes out clean.

Serve warm with more maple syrup.  Sit back, savor, and enjoy the compliments.

Tips

Pure maple syrup and pure vanilla extract.  Any usage of maple flavored sugar syrup or imitation vanilla will destroy this dish and you’ll never be invited over for anyone’s pot luck brunch ever again.  In a pinch, a loaf of soft French bread will work.

 

Butternut Squash Enchilada Casserole

Butternut Squash Enchilada Casserole

1 T olive oil
1 butternut squash (1½ lb.), halved and seeded
1 medium sweet onion, diced (1 cup)
1 4.5 ounce can diced green chiles
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp. )
3 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
Enchilada sauce (homemade or canned)
8-12 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place squash cut-side down on baking sheet. Roast 45 minutes, or until soft. Allow to cool, scoop into a bowl and mash.

2. Heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté until soft. Add chiles and garlic. Cook 1 minute.

3. Stir in mashed squash, cream cheese, cumin, and nutmeg. Turn the heat off and mix well.

4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread 1 cup enchilada sauce over bottom of 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Layer tortillas followed by the squash mixture, then cheddar cheese. Repeat, ending with cheddar cheese as your final layer on top. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the sides start bubbling and the cheese is melted and gooey.

5. Serve with your usual Tex-Mex sides and condiments. Extra cheese, sour cream, sliced avocado, green onions, jalepeno peppers, salsa, chips, beans, rice. Or a side salad works too but not as satisfying.

I sometimes forget this blog is about recipes.  I get off on a tangent like mislabeled seafood or nasty who knows what’s in them chicken nuggets from China.  FOCUS!  It’s about the food, the recipes, and the memories.  A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I used to make a squash enchilada  casserole when fall rolled around and the hard squashes started appearing in the market.  I was always amazed at how tasty this dish was without any meat in it.  Like all great family recipes this one exhibits the following classic characteristics.

The kids didn’t like it when they were little and I never wrote the recipe down.  I’m sure if I wanted to waste an hour or two I could find the original recipe yellowed and faded, taped to a 3 x 5 card somewhere.  I also know that when I find the original recipe it won’t be how I make it now.  Why bother looking? I do recall the original recipe called for some cooked potato added to the squash mixture.  I also recall the original did not have green chilies in it.  So here you go. This recipe is from memory.  I hope it tastes good.

I can’t believe this is my 100th post.

TIPS

 If you like (or need) an extra kick, sub a heartier pepper for the green chilies.  Need protein?  Add a can of black beans, rinsed and drained, to the middle layer of the casserole.  Monterrey Jack would be a nice sub for the cheddar.  Or Smokey Chipotle Cheddar might work too.  (I have a chunk of this in the fridge and it’s looking for a recipe).  But most of all, have some fun with this recipe.

Update 11.17.14

I know, two days after posting and I’m making changes already.  Step 4 –  for the middle layers, tortillas, squash mixture, cheddar cheese, repeat.  No enchilada sauce.  The red sauce goes only on the bottom of the pan and on the top layer of tortillas.  The final layer is tortillas, enchilada sauce, and shredded Monterrey jack cheese.  Yellow corn tortillas are fine but I used white corn tortillas.  I only needed ten tortillas.  You’ll get eight generous servings from this casserole.  I made some quick enchilada sauce with a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes and some chicken stock.  You can leave out the chicken stock if you’re a picky vegetarian.  You can leave the cheese off too but I won’t take any responsibility for how your casserole turns out.

Squash Casserole

Life can be funny sometimes.  Every year the Thanksgiving menu never changes.  There was the occasional occasion where someone in the family said,

This is getting boring.  Time to change things up.

So a new dish gets introduced.  Everyone proclaims how delicious the new dish is but somehow the new dish is never to be seen again at Thanksgiving.  It took us a while to figure out but finally we figured out that boring was good.  And I’m not saying this squash casserole is boring.  You just have a tendency to forget how good it is.

So here’s to Thanksgiving with the same menu, the same people and one hell of a squash casserole.

  • 2 lbs yellow squash, rough sliced to 1/2 inch thickness
  • 1 medium sweet yellow onion, sliced
  • 3/4 C cracker crumbs
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 C cheddar cheese, shredded
  1. Place the squash in a sauce pot with about an inch of water.  Bring to a boil, cover, lower the heat, and steam until just cooked through.  Drain, mash with a potato masher to a rough mash and set aside to cool.
  2. In a separate pan, saute the onion in butter until soft.
  3. Grease an oblong baking dish big enough to hold the squash (butter is better).
  4. Combine the eggs, 1 cup of the cheese, cracker crumbs, onions, and squash.  Mix well and place into the baking dish.
  5. Cover with the remaining cheese.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes until the cheese is browned and the sides are bubbly.
  6. Let the casserole sit for 10-15 minutes to firm up.  Serve warm.

 

The other day we got some squash from our relatives to be in Claremore, OK.  The instant The Boss saw these beautiful vegetables she said,

Make squash casserole.  Grill chicken.  Make a salad.

Yes Dear.

Notes – butter is better.  More butter is more better.  Salt and pepper to taste, but you really don’t need much of either.  Use cheddar to your personal taste.  I like sharp cheddar.  But I used what was already open in the fridge and I cannot tell you the sharpness.  Cracker crumbs – some Southerners swear by Ritz crackers.  I used plain saltines and they worked just fine.

Credits – Aunt Kathy.