Monday, November 22, 2010

Grandmother's Dressing

My grandmother and me. I have no idea what I'm doing.

It's Thanksgiving again. (Again!) Good lord. Time, she do fly.

Just about everyone has some tradition, I know, and the web is rife with them right now. So who am I to go try to be original and all that? Let's talk dressing.

First, it's not stuffing. It's dressing. No one in my family ever put bread in the bird. So I've never done it myself. Tradition.

Second, it's very, very plain. VERY plain. Dry and crunchy around the edges - perfect for gravy. No onions, No celery. And you can't slop it out with an ice cream scoop like that nasty soggy stuff they served us in school. Good lord. Grandmother used to make two batches. One with oysters for Granddad (and no one but Granddad would eat it) and one without.

He loved oyster dressing. And licorice.

We had the same meal twice over the holidays every year. Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Mother and I still can't figure out what the hell the deal is with this "skirt". Was she training me as a young Britney Spears? And for the record, yes, my thighs are still that chunky.

Turkey and Dressing, Strawberry Salad (a strawberry/pineapple/jello salad topped with sour cream that everyone on MY side of the family loves - my in-law family, not so much - so I don't make it anymore) succotash, and sweet potatoes. And karo pecan pie (my mother would eat the crust and the karo part - she hated the pecans) and pumpkin pie (which, I was informed by my mother-in-law ten years after I married into the family and had cooked every year, that no one but me liked. Humph.).

Grandmother got the recipe for the dressing from a friend of hers, but for everyone in the family, it's Grandmother's Dressing. And we've passed this kind of vague recipe back and forth since before she died. Never quite sure how much liquid, how much "a package of Pepperidge Farm Stuffing Mix" was - was it the big one, or the little one?

We scattered into three different time zones, and every single year, somebody was calling somebody, saying either a.) "I've lost Grandmother's Dressing recipe. Can you send it?" or b.) "So... wait. Is it double the liquid on the recipe, or is this the doubled recipe?"

In Grandmother's kitchen. My uncle Jim and his girlfriend Cathy and my mom.  I'm pretty sure Dad did my hairdo. He had a tendency to pull my pigtails reeeeeallly tight. I think Mom is wiping something off my face. Losing battle. I'm my father's child.

Despite the complete and utter (and most unreasonable) rejection of the strawberry salad and the pumpkin pie, my mother-in-law LOVES this dressing. Which redeems her. (Plus, I don't like her Christmas goose and chestnut dressing, so we're roughly even.) She has been known to turn down dessert in favor of another helping of it. As I said, it's plain as can be, but still delicious, and it's one family tradition I will not be fiddling with. I don't have pictures of it, because I haven't made it yet. Besides, it's Brown. You can picture it, I'm sure. Thursday I'll be cooking it for my in-laws and uncle and aunt-in-laws and cousin-in-laws.

Grandmother's Dressing
One recipe serves six easily.

1 - 8 oz. package Pepperidge Farm Stuffing mix - the herb one - not that new cornbread one. I don't have any idea what that is.

1 pkg Jiffy Corn Bread Mix, baked according to instructions. You heard me. You'll need milk and an egg. I actually use buttermilk.

4 slices bread. Just any old bread. Try pumpernickel. That would good.

Crumble the cornbread and place in a very large bowl. Tear the bread into small pieces and add to the cornbread. Add the Pepperidge Farm Stuffing mix. Set aside.

Now over medium low heat in a medium pot, heat:

1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
 2 chicken bullion cubes. These are here for the salt. Trust me. You need it.

2 tsp. Kitchen Bouquet

When the butter is melted, pour this liquid over the bread crumb mixture. Then add:

3 eggs, beaten

Mix the liquid and bread together well, until well-moistened, but not mushy (says my mom). My grandmother's recipe says "Add giblet liquid, if necessary". Mom says "blegh", so we changed that to "turkey or chicken stock".

Put into a large baking dish - I use a 9 x 13" Pyrex baking dish. Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes, or until a little crispy on the sides.

Serve with turkey and gravy.

1 comment:

John Payne said...

Thanks for that, A. I needed a little nostalgia this morning. :)