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.