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A Black Iron Haven

Mamme's Chicken & Dressing (modified for cast iron!)

Posted by Rick Mansfield



A Yes, I know that the holidays are now behind us, so who wants to talk about dressing? Well, I’m going to post this recipe anyway because it’s something that some of you might want to experiment with during the year before the holidays are upon us again. Frankly, I don’t know why more people don’t use cast iron to make their Thanksgiving or Christmas dressing. Think about that wonderful crust that comes from cornbread in a cast iron skillet. What’s the main ingredient in dressing--cornbread! It’s time to rethink how we make this dish.

A few months back, I shared my maternal grandmother’s cornbread recipe. With the holiday season square upon us, I want to share my paternal grandmother’s (pictured on right) dressing recipe. This is an interesting recipe because rather than a dressing that can be served with a turkey, this dressing can be served as a main course since it has chicken in it already. Or the chicken can be left out and it can be served traditionally with turkey. I made this dressing recipe from my paternal grandmother using my maternal grandmother’s cornbread recipe. To me, this brought together traditions from both sides of my family into one dish.

I don’t know a whole lot about the history of this recipe, but I find it unusual that it already has chicken in it--similar to something you might find in a cafeteria. My grandmother was a single mother of three children working on a teacher’s salary in Arkansas during the mid-twentieth century, so this may have been a recipe designed to fit with a modest budget. However, this makes it a great dish to take to a potluck this time of year because it is complete in itself. My memories of my grandmother making this particular recipe are starting to fade--she died in 1988--so I was very glad to get a copy of it from a family member. It is still being made annually by my relatives as a way to keep my grandmother’s memory alive.

My grandmother’s name was Maureen Mansfield, but we simply called her “Mamme.” Even though she’s been gone over two decades, I can still remember her voice and the distinct way she would tilt her head upwards and close her eyes when she laughed. The picture of her that I have in this post would probably date from the early 1960s I would guess.

I was very excited to get my grandmother’s recipe, so that I, too, could continue the tradition of making her dressing. But as mentioned earlier, I wanted to try it in cast iron. To me it only seems to make sense that a dressing recipe would be made in cast iron; yet I don’t know anyone who does it. This is probably because most people don’t have cast iron casserole pans (which I highly recommend). I used a Lodge enameled roaster pan and the recipe came out absolutely perfect with a nice crispy texture on the outer edges, just like perfectly cooked cornbread. If you don’t have a cast iron casserole pan, you might try a couple of cast iron skillets or a large dutch oven. However, if using a dutch oven, you’ll want to make certain that the dressing is done in the middle.

Technically, you can make the gravy for this dressing in any regular pan and transfer it to a gravy boat on the table. However, I used a Lodge 2 qt. serving pot which was very nice looking on the table without even needing a separate gravy boat.

So you’ve got plenty of time to experiment. Try making this dressing recipe or any other in cast iron in the coming months so you can perfect your method by Thanksgiving. Then, don’t be surprised if you like it cooked in cast iron so much that you don’t ever go back to those old pans again!

Mamme’s Chicken and Dressing
(modified for cast iron)

Cast iron required:
  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Any cast iron roaster/casserole pan or try two skillets or one large (9 quarts or larger) dutch oven.
Ingredients:
  • 6 chicken breasts, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1.25 quarts broth from cooking chicken, separated
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 skillet cornbread, (not sweet)
  • 10 saltine crackers, crumbled
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 1 onion
  • 4 slices toasted bread, crumbled
  • 2 can cream of chicken soup
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tsp poultry season, (or to taste)
  • 2 boiled eggs, chopped
Directions:
After cooking chicken breasts, debone if necessary, and chop up into bite-size pieces.

Sauté onions and celery in a cast iron skillet.

Mix together crumbled cornbread, sautéed celery and onions, 10 crumbled crackers, 4 crumbled slices of toasted bread.

Add 1 can of cream of mushrooms soup, beaten eggs, black pepper, poultry seasoning, chicken broth, and cooked chicken pieces. Chill overnight.

Set out in the morning and let sit for a couple of hours to get some of the chill off. Pour into a casserole pan (preferably cast iron or a large cast iron dutch oven). Cook at 350° uncovered for approximately 45 minutes or until the center is set and dressing is slightly brown.

To make the gravy, combine 1 can of cream of chicken soup with 1 cup of chicken broth, chopped eggs and 1 to 2 tbsp of cooked dressing. Heat in over a medium heat. I use a Lodge 2 quart serving pot, but a sauce pan works, too. When thoroughly heated, it's ready. If you have the Lodge cast iron pot, serve it in that. Otherwise, pour into your favorite gravy boat.




MacGourmet users, click image to download recipe (or simply drag image to your MacGourmet recipe box).

Feel free to leave your thoughts or ask questions in the comments below, or you can contact Rick directly at rick@cookingincastiron.com.

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