Pecan Dressing

You are welcome to stuff it.

November 2013By Comments

Photograph by Jody Horton

Around this time of year, if all goes well horticulturally speaking, the state nut of Texas commences to rain down upon us, and after battling bushy-tailed marauders bent on stockpiling every last one, we turn our minds to what to do with our hard-won prize. Sure, pecan pie is nice. But since we’re already in a combative mood, let’s make stuffing. Or is it dressing? A once-a-year indulgence for most, this humble side dish nevertheless gets folks seriously worked up. Everyone has his or her favorite, and that would be Mom’s. We cast a wary eye at any tabletop transgressors (is that fruit in there? Wait, are those oysters?), as if our family’s very integrity were bound up, right along with the celery and sage, in that warm mass of stale bread. Freighted as it is with holiday nostalgia, it’s no wonder we argue over everything from where to cook it (whether you like the herby mixture in or out of the bird seems to correlate with whether you grew up in or out of the South) to what type of bread to use (the one thing Texans agree on is that it must contain cornbread). In the interest of keeping things civil, here’s a simple, traditional version that you can doctor up any way you see fit. And we baked it in a casserole dish, but you are, of course, welcome to stuff it. 

Serves about 15

10 cups dried bread; we did half white bread and half (not sweet!) cornbread
3 cups pecan pieces
2 large sweet onions, minced
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 teaspoons dried sage
1 teaspoon paprika
4 cups whole milk
1 cup melted butter
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups celery, chopped

Tear bread into small pieces. Add pecans, onions, and seasonings. Stir in remaining ingredients in the order given. Bake in a casserole dish (or two) at 325 degrees until crispy and brown around the edges, about an hour. 

Adapted from Down-Home Texas Cooking, by James Stroman. published by Taylor Trade Publishing.

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