Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Story of Papa Loyd's Famous Cornbread Dressing

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I've always loved to cook and see family. We're the kind that stays, eats some more, and stays, naps a little, and stays, talk a lot, watch some football, stays a bit longer, and eventually waddle our way back to our cars with heaping plates of leftovers for the next day.

I thought I would share with you the killer cornbread dressing recipe from my Grandfather. I love to make it every year in his memory, in the very big silver "dressing bowl" he taught me to prepare it in.

The year before Papa Loyd died he was still stubbornly insisting on hosting Christmas Day dinner at his house like we always did. I went over to help with the preparations and brought my video camera to try and capture the infamous dressing recipe on tape. I let him boss me around and call all the shots - watching that video makes me laugh as I cry.

Me & Papa Loyd circa 1979
Papa Loyd's Holiday Dressing & Giblet Gravy

Note: no shortcuts allowed. No broth instead of homemade stock. No store bought cornbread. I've tried the shortcuts and they just. don't. work. It's not the same.

1 hen (not chicken)
2-3 onions, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 large pones cornbread (if you don't know what a pone is you have no business making this recipe)
1/4 butter
2 TBS yellow mustard
2 TBS ketchup
2 TBS Italian seasoning
1/2 to 2/3 cup fresh sage, finely chopped (reduce amount if dried)
3 slices bread, torn up into small pieces
1 (8 oz.) can oysters, drained & chopped
3 TBS jarred pimento, finely chopped
salt & pepper to taste

The day before: cook cornbread & cool completely. Crumble both pones.

Day of Thanksgiving:
Remove giblets from hen and set aside.

Rinse hen and place in stockpot & cover with water, about 8 cups. Simmer covered until done, reserving broth. De-bone hen & reserve meat.

Preheat oven 350 degrees

In large saucepan melt butter & add onion, celery, and bell pepper. Add all the broth from hen, cover and simmer 10 minutes.

In BIG ("dressing") bowl, combine crumbled cornbread, torn bread pieces, & the broth mix until it reaches spaghetti sauce consistency. If mix is too soupy, add more bread pieces.

Add all the remaining ingredients & mix well.

Pour mixture into a large roasting pan. Bake 1 hour until golden.

Serve hot with giblet gravy & hen meat on the side.

Finely chop hen giblets.

Simmer 3 cups chicken broth on stovetop. Add flour a little at a time, stirring constantly until a smooth, thin rue is formed. Add chopped giblets, blend well, and simmer.

Salt, pepper, and otherwise season to taste, can add one or two sliced boiled eggs to gravy if you want to be extra-Southern.

Yields: enough for a crowd of at least 10-15.

Eliot Loyd is Papa Loyd's namesake.
I see his spirit in that boy every day.


Artist Unplugged said...

Didn't make it very far, by the first photo, I was (am) crying. I am so tickled little Eli is part little Loyd.

S2 said...

The love just oozes out of this blog... I have no special memories of grandparents, so thank you for sharing yours.

Is there any doubt Eli is YOUR child? You two look soooo similar. CUTE.

I know you are shocked (SHOCKED I say) to learn that I haven't a clue what a "pone" is, so it's probably wise I never try this recipe on my own.

This is truly a beautiful blog...

Anonymous said...

What a great story. My family doesn't have any recipes with a history has rich as yours, but we're totally up on the food/love bond. I will miss the cooking this year... One of my favorite thanksgivings was spent at the beach and my mom and my aunt made alfredo with the fresh gulf shrimp. I'll just have to find a way to make Thanksgiving mine here at Penn. Happy holidays to you and the family!

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