Old home week
September 14, 2013
Because, some days, you feel like chicken and dressing.
I dunno why. It’s not one of those things that gets high on my want-it list too often. But when it does, well, best go ahead and feed that need.
I had roasted a chicken yesterday, one of my JV Farms organic, tractor chickens (which is kinda-like free range but it isn’t, chickens raised in sizeable cages, with room to move, transferred to different locations in a pasture every other day, so they have fresh grass and bugs and such). I brought back four of ’em, frozen, from my last trip to LA (Lower Arkansas), and will enjoy them along the way for the next two-three weeks, because I am done, I tell you, done, with those hormone-fortified, saline-injected, grocery store chickens.
And I was in a notion for chicken and dressing, perhaps spurred by the dinner t’other day of turkey and dressing at the Clark County Fairgrounds, which was quite excellent. So I commenced to make me a pan of chicken and dressing, thusly:
- One eight-inch skillet of cornbread. Better if it’s stale, but I made mine fresh.
- About 3 cups diced chicken (all of a 3-pound broiler after two of us had eaten dinner off it the night before)
- About three cups of chicken broth
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- A whole s**t-load of sage (seriously, at least 3 tbsp, maybe more)
This is miminalist chicken and dressing. I see no need to dress it up. You can add celery, if you wish; I detest celery, so I don’t. You can add chopped onion, sauteed or not; I’m ambivalent about onion in this regard, so I pass. You can add hard- boiled eggs; I didn’t bother.
If you take a notion on a Saturday, with a roasted most-of-a-chicken in your fridge, to make dressing, you do it thusly:
1. You bake a skillet of cornbread. If you need directions on this, there is no help for you, and I hate it for you. Go to Wendy’s.
2. While the cornbread is cooling, you fetch the chicken from the fridge and pull the biggest portion of the meat from the carcass. Feed significant portions of the skin to the dawg, who will love you.
3. Throw the carcass, an onion cut in half, and a handful of garlic cloves in a Dutch oven, cover them with water, clap a lid on it, and set them to boil. When they boil, turn them back to simmer and ignore for an hour.
4. Chop the chicken, crumble the cornbread, and toss them together. Add salt, pepper and sage. Add about three cups or so of broth (and freeze the rest). Smoosh it all up together, and let it sit for 30 minutes or so, to soak the cornbread thoroughly.
5. After all that, break any remaining clumps of cornbread up and stir. It’s wet enough if, when you smooth out the surface and press down with the back of a spoon, you see broth well up. If it’s not, add more broth. Pour it over into a 9 x 9 baking dish, and bake at 325 for an hour.
That’s it. And it’s wonderful. You need you some canned cranberry sauce (being that it’s September, and there are no real cranberries in the stores yet). Slice that stuff and layer it over your dressing. Should you have, as I did, purple hulled peas and fried okra and sliced tomatoes, so much the better.
As you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em will remember, this is church pot-luck dinner material. It’s worth making. Do so. It’s a worthy use of leftover roast chicken (I will not tell anyone if you use the remains of a rotissiere chicken from the Wal-Marts), and it will make you happy. Particularly if you have cranberry sauce.