This recipe is more than a tasty addition to the Thanksgiving spread at our house. It is part tradition, part legend and part family glue. For as long as I can remember it has been the vital ingredient to Thanksgiving – the smell of this dish baking makes the day official. I could actually do without a turkey and without something made from pumpkin as long as there is a pan of this dressing in the oven.
My grandfather, Felipe Hernandez, collected this recipe from a chef at Milam’s Cafeteria in San Antonio, Texas at some point during his career as a meat supplier. In the 50’s or 60’s? (Mom maybe you can put a timeframe on it.) One of my very earliest kitchen memories is watching Grandpa, Grandma and Uncle Sam mixing up a double (maybe triple) batch of this dressing a couple of days before Thanksgiving. I remember sitting on the green stool with the fold-out steps, in the corner of the kitchen, listening, watching and inhaling the smell of onion and green pepper. I was supposed to stay out of the way, but Uncle Sam let me stir the mixture a couple of times. I remember huge bowls – were they really huge or was I really small? There were lots of backseat chefs giving instructions on the size of the dice and the amount of stock to use and there was a lot of the same banter that happens now when my family gathers for a chopping, toasting, mixing extravaganza.
There is something very settling in knowing that wherever my sister is, she is boiling eggs, making stock and crumbling cornbread on Wednesday night too. There is often a phone call or two to make sure that we have all the ingredients. Although honestly, we can both make this shopping trip by heart – except for the parsley – the phone call is usually a parsley reminder. By the way, if you really want to enjoy this recipe – I recommend you pair it with cranberry relish and good company and that you ignore, for at least one day, the nutritional facts. 🙂
Grandpa Hernandez’s Dressing Recipe
1 1/2 bunch celery, diced
1/2 lb. onion, diced
2 cups green pepper, diced
2 apples, Rome or Winesap, diced
1 cup parsley, minced
2 loaves white bread, toasted and chopped
1 8 x 8 pan cornbread, crumbled
3 hard-boiled eggs, diced
1 lb mild sausage
1 lb. bacon
1 lb. butter
3 -5 cups turkey stock
Brown meats, save fat. Saute celery, green peppers in all butter and meat fats. Add onion. Cook until transparent. Make stock from neck, quartered onion and celery leaves. (Salt if desired.) Toast and chop bread. Crumble cornbread. In large container, add breads and vegetable mixture. Add apples, eggs, meats, and parsley. Mix well. Fold stock into mixture. (Start with 3 cups and add as necessary – should be moist but not mushy.) Bake at 350 until heated through and toasted on top.Makes 12 servings.
Per serving: 527 Calories; 50g Fat (84% calories from fat)
14 g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; 118mg Cholesterol; 1052mg Sodium
Note: This is the recipe as it was handed down. I use half the butter, and very little salt in the stock. This recipe freezes and doubles well. When doubling this recipe, I use 2 bunches of celery and 3 family size loaves of white bread. When freezing this recipe, I freeze in freezer bags uncooked. Also, I no longer stuff the turkey; we prefer the toastiness of the cooked-in-pans version.