Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Book of Ruth (Chapter One: Her Special Dressing)

My dear friend Ruth spent her Christmas vacation in Grayton Beach, Florida with her lovely new hubby (lucky gal!).  And being the resourceful sort--and my hero--she travelled there with a crock pot in tow. For their Christmas Eve Dinner in said crock pot, she made a roast, new potatoes, carrots, and baby onions.  On the side, she also prepared "Ruth's homemade dressing," what a Southerner like herself calls "English peas," and a pumpkin pie for dessert.

It was the dressing that intrigued me most, though. Ruth says it's a big favorite with her family and friends at Thanksgiving, and her new hubs reportedly had three helpings for his Christmas breakfast! Tee hee. So I asked her for the recipe, and she explained her basic methodology which I have translated into a more precise recipe below--my take on it, anyway. This dressing is yummy, and easy enough to prepare on a weeknight alongside a roast chicken; who says we have to wait until the holidays roll around again? However, I made this for our lunch today to celebrate Cyd's early (snow day) release from work. YAY!

Ruth's Cranberry-Pecan Dressing

1/2 cup (one stick) butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or more, to taste)
1/2 bag of Pepperidge Farm stuffing (not the cornbread, the herbal)
2 teaspoons rubbed or ground sage or ground sage
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
2 teaspoons Italian herbs
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or more, to taste)
one can (or more) low-sodium chicken broth (I used one can, and I should have used a little more--it was a smidge dry for my tastes)
1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil, "to the moisture consistency that one desires," as Ruth says

In a large ovenproof skillet, melt the butter and sauté the onion and celery until tender. Stir in the chopped pecans and cook for a few minutes until the nuts are fragrant and just starting to brown.

In a large bowl, mix the stuffing, seasonings, and craisins. Add the sautéed veggies and pecans, then moisten everything with chicken broth. Add a drizzle of olive oil, and then add the dressing back to the skillet. Even it out, but don't compact it.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees until a little crispy on top, 30 minutes or so.

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