November 20, 2017
In the middle of a big, loud, chaotic event last week, a woman excitedly came up to me and proudly announced, “I’m making Grammy’s dressing!”
I felt so proud. Another culinary convert to the cause. She and her family will be enjoying what’s generally known as the “Cornbread Dressing That Will Bring You Comfort At A Time When The World Could Use, Yea Verily, Really Needs Some Good Things That Everyone Can Agree On And That Is For Sure Going to Make Everyone Feel Happy.”
We’re still working on the name. The acronym might be a little clunky.
Thanksgiving snuck up on me this year. I almost forgot my now traditional Watson Wire where I share my Grammy’s recipe for cornbread dressing, which really is a good thing that everyone can agree on and for sure is going to make everyone feel happy.
A couple of important things:
I’m especially thankful this year for the fact that my first grand baby, Effie Watson, is due any day now. And just accept the fact that pretty much every Watson Wire after this will have something about her. It’ll be great. You’ll love it. You, too, will be thankful.
And one day, Effie will love Grammy’s dressing, too.
So Here It Is…
From the Watson Wire, November 20, 2012
Vesta Bryant Watson Cranor, a/k/a “Grammy,” made the best Thanksgiving and Christmas dressing. Second place isn’t close. Actually, there is no second place, because everything else really isn’t even dressing. Billye Faye Vanderslice Watson, Grammy’s daughter-in-law and my mother, made the same dressing — usually in the same kitchen with Grammy. Every time they made it, they’d ask my father to taste it before it went in the oven.
The exchange was always the same. Grammy would say, “Don, would you taste the dressing?” He’d always dip a spoon into the soupy mix, put it in his mouth and say, “There’s not enough sage.” Every single time. And every single time, they’d put a little more sage in and then ignore anything else he had to say. I still wonder if he even knew what sage tasted like.
Mother died in early 1999. Grammy wasn’t making dressing by that time and died a little later. We messed around with different dressings but they were never the same.
One holiday season, Liz and I were mourning the fact that we didn’t know the recipe and had lost the historians. We sort of chastised ourselves for not writing it down when we had those two around.
That night, Liz pulled a book off a high shelf and a 3 x 5 card fluttered out of it. On the card, in my mother’s handwriting, was the recipe to what she labeled “Grammy’s Cornbread Dressing.” It was very spooky. It felt like those two old women had been listening and sent us that recipe to take care of us again.
Grammy’s Cornbread Dressing
I’ve bolded what the old gals told us was important. Use WHITE bread for the toast and cheap biscuits, no butter or flaky stuff (not Grands). You MUST use bacon grease to cook the cornbread in…and you just make the cornbread plain. Also you MUST use a glass baking dish.
1 recipe of Cornbread (Cornkits is the best — you can get it at HEB; Jiffy and other have too much sugar in them), preferably made with buttermilk or soured milk and greased in pan with bacon grease
3-4 Large Biscuits
3-4 slices toast
1 cup onion
1 cup celery
4 eggs – well broken
2-3 cups fresh stock or 2 can chicken stock
2 tablespoons sage
1-2 tablespoons poultry seasoning (to taste)
Salt and pepper
TWO DAYS BEFORE
Prepare cornbread with white bread 2 days in advance and crumble fine. Let sit covered with a dishtowel to dry out in a bowl.
Mix all ingredients. Mixture should be very soupy in order to make a dressing that is not dry. Season to taste.
Put in glass baking dish and cook at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until lightly golden/brown.
Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!