The last weekend of September, my Dad’s family have gathered for over 30 years now to share a meal and catch up with each other on family events. It’s harder to do now since our family lives in several states, but somehow we manage to find the time to come home. My Dad’s family are native Arkansans, living in the Peel area over on Bull Shoals Lake.
Everyone brings a dish, or two or three…there’s always a spread of food fit for a King. My Aunt Joy’s apple pies were gone almost as soon as she set them down, with only a few lonely crumbs left in the pans. You didn’t dare wait until after you had your meal to get a piece of her pie, otherwise your sweet tooth would just have to go unsatisfied. It was more than the delicious ingredients that made the pies special, it was the tender loving care that she mixed into each one of them.
There’s lots of recipe sharing going on at the reunion as well. Happy and tickled-pink to share, why would anyone want to hoard a recipe only for themselves? We have some great cooks in the family. Nothing chef inspired at this gathering, but delicious all the same. Plenty of fried chicken, baked chicken, chicken and dressing, chicken and homemade noodles…the bird is revered in our family! These casseroles could make it into any of Paula Deen’s Cookbooks!
My Dad loved the gathering so much. His famous chicken and dressing was his offering, as much from his heart as from the simple ingredients that went into the dish. He had made it so many times for family and church potlucks that he could have made it in his sleep! If you’re from the South, it’s cornbread dressing made with unsweetened cornbread. Sauteed onions, celery and sage; slow simmered broth from the chicken and generous amounts of butter make this a cardiologist’s nightmare! But it is “Slap Dab Delicious” and comfort food at it’s finest!
This is the time honored recipe that Daddy used to make and has been passed down to me and to our daughters to share with their families.
Daddy's Chicken and Dressing1 pan crumbled cornbread (no sugar in cornbread, please!)
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 bunch celery, chopped
1 stick butter
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tablespoons whole leaf sage
4-5 cups rich chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
Prepare cornbread and biscuits the day before. Cook onion and celery in butter and broth covered until tender. Pour over the crumbled breads in a large bowl, add beaten eggs. Rub the sage between your palms to release the flavor adding to bowl. Add broth to make a very moist consistency (almost soupy, as this bakes it will dry out). Adjust seasonings adding salt, pepper and more sage if desired. Bake 350* for 45 minutes until hot, or place mixture in crock pot on HIGH until hot then turn to LOW to keep warm.