In a year that feels more like a decade, who’s in need of some childhood nostalgia this holiday season? Good news. Turns out, recreating the comfort food you grew up loving is easier than you may think.

Earlier this year, Pioneer’s Head Research & Development Chef Brian Mannett took to the Pioneer Test Kitchen in the heart of San Antonio with one goal in mind – capture the essence of his grandma’s homecooked favorites in less time and for less money.

The secret, he discovered, for punching up the flavor, while cutting back on time: Gravy.

While it may come as a surprise to many, gravy can be used as more than just a tasty turkey topper. Not only can it be a rich and flavorful alternative to chicken stock in stuffing or casseroles, but gravy can be used for an added creamy infusion of flavor in soups, chowders and stews.

Curious which of Chef Brian’s recipes topped the list? A sweet and savory Apple Bacon Cornbread Dressing, a mouthwatering Turkey Casserole and a Hearty Pioneer Beef Stew.

A leader in gravy since 1851, Pioneer’s handcrafted gravy mix is available at your local grocery store. To download coupons or to view other gravy-infused innovative recipes like Country Mashed Potato Bites, Cauliflower and Brussels Sprout Cornbread Dressing or Chicken, Cheddar and Macaroni Bake, visit

Grandma’s Famous Apple Bacon Cornbread Dressing



1 pkg. (6oz.)      Pioneer Sweet Yellow Corn Muffin Mix, prepared

2 cups              Pioneer Country Gravy Mix, prepared

8 oz.                 Bacon, thick cut, diced

2 each              Red Apples, core removed and diced into large pieces

1 cup                Onion, sliced into half moons

1 tbsp.              Garlic, sliced thin

1 tbsp.              Sage, chopped

1 ½ cups           Chicken Stock



  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Dice prepared cornbread, about 1-inch pieces. Set aside.
  3. Brown the bacon in a skillet. When fully browned remove bacon and drain all but 1 tbsp. of fat.
  4. Sauté in same skillet, add onions, garlic, sage, and apples. Sauté for 2 minutes on medium high heat. Transfer all contents of pan to a large bowl.
  5. In empty skillet, add the diced cornbread and top with contents of large bowl.
  6. Add chicken stock to prepared Pioneer Country Gravy Mix
  7. then pour the contents over the ingredients in the skillet and stir to combine.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes or until internal temperature is above 150°F and top is browned and a bit crispy.
  9. Garnish with additional sage sprigs.

Tip: For added crunch dice or slice an additional apple to top right before serving.


Turkey Casserole


4 cup                Leftover cooked turkey, cubed (or 1 ½ lb. turkey tenderloin, cooked and cubed)

6 slices             Bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 cup                Tomato, chopped, seeded

½ cup               Green onions, chopped

1 package         Pioneer Country Gravy Mix

½ cup               Mayonnaise

1 ½ cup             Colby-jack cheese, shredded

2 cups              Pioneer Original or Buttermilk Biscuit and Baking Mix

2/3 cup             Milk

2 tbsp.              Butter or margarine, melted



  1. In large bowl, combine turkey, bacon, tomato and onions; set aside.
  2. Prepare Pioneer Country Gravy Mix
  3. according to package directions. Stir in mayonnaise and cheese until well blended.
  4. Pour over turkey mixture; stir to coat. Pour into a 13 x 9 x 2-inchbaking dish that has been coated with cooking spray.
  5. Prepare Biscuits: in medium bowl, combine Pioneer Biscuit and Baking Mix, cheese, and milk. Stir until mixture forms a ball.
  6. Turn out onto surface dusted with additional biscuit mix. Knead 7-10 times.
  7. Roll out to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with 2-inch cutter without twisting
  8. Gently place biscuits on turkey mixture.
  9. Bake at 450°F for 12 to 15 minutes or until biscuit lattice is golden brown and turkey mixture is bubbly. Brush biscuits with melted butter.


Hearty Pioneer Beef Stew


1 tbsp.             Vegetable oil
2 lb.                  Beef stewing meat
8 oz.                 Tomato sauce
3 cup                Beef stock
1 pkg.               Pioneer Brown Gravy Mix
1 cup                Red wine
1 diced             Potato
½ cup               Frozen peas
½ cup               Frozen carrots



  1. In a medium sauce pot, heat olive oil over medium-high flame.
  2. Once oil is hot, sear the beef. Stir every couple of minutes.
  3. Cook out excess moisture from the meat and add tomato sauce and beef stock.
  4. Reduce the mixture by half over high heat.
  5. Whisk together Pioneer Brown Gravy Mix and red wine. Whisk away any lumps.
  6. Add gravy mixture and potatoes to the pot and cook until thickened
  7. Continue to cook over high heat, checking for consistency. You want the sauce to coat the meat.
  8. Once the potatoes are done, turn heat to low and fold in frozen peas and carrots.
  9. Let rest for 5 minutes to heat the vegetables all the way through.
  10. Enjoy in a large casserole dish with the whole family!