My parents built the house in 1949 on land that had been in Mom's family since 1860. Across the pasture on Keeling Lane, her parents lived in what we have always called the "old place." In pictures from long ago, you can see the gingerbread trim at the eaves. When I was little, I'd look at those pictures and think of Hansel and Gretel! To Mom it was a memory, to me it was almost a fairytale. So long ago, when she was a little girl and her Grandmother lived in that house before her parents married. Things like that escape you when you are young, yet my Mother and Grandmother were intent on passing on that part of the family history. Now it's clearer, and dearer.
My Dad loved preparing his famous chicken and dressing for the holidays. It 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. It is remembered fondly in our family and immortalized in the Risley Family Cookbook.
1 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 dried 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.
Like everything in life, this dish is best when eaten at the table with loved ones...