Monday, January 22, 2007

Nana's Dressing

Maybe some would find it silly to commemorate someone who passed so long ago, but every January 22 I remember my ever-resilient grandmother, my Nana (we pronounced it "Nah-Nah," accent on the 1st syllable). Born in Little Italy in 1919, she was 100% napoletana. And she passed 17 years ago today. Wow, 17 years ago! Hard to imagine.

But she's still around in the little ways - most notably her food. Odd, but most of the Neapolitan, Campanian and otherwise Southern Italian food I have in my recipe kit actually don't come from her, but from my own research. The foods I most remember from her are good old American comfort food. One recipe I remember most fondly is her Thanksgiving dressing. She had a recipe for, oh, twelve to people. These days, Thanksgiving for my family requires half the amount. I made it for my landlords in California for Thanksgiving. And we still make it every year. So this is in Nana's memory, in what is certainly her first ever appearance in a blog. Wow, she'd be amazed at this technology we have today.

There are no specific serving sizes and no measurements on some things, so I am trying to estimate. [Items in brackets are mine]

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Turkey Dressing [serves 4 to 8, depending on how much you like stuffing]

1 1/2 cups finely broken bread crumbs [I usually use unseasoned bread cubes these days]
1 cup diced celery [2 stalks]
1/2 cup chopped onion [about 1 large onion; we use yellow or Vidalia onion]
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. paprika [the paprika is important]
2 Tbsp. butter
enough water or broth to soften the mixture to a dough-like consistency [we eyeball it; usually about 2 cups]

Use HOT (Heated) Water or Broth. Chicken broth or Turkey broth are best to use. Put bread in huge bowl or pot. Pour heated liquid over bread and mix until like dough. Let sit. Put Butter in large frying pan and saute celery and onion until slightly brown (Just saute it). Add to bread mixture and add Paprika and Salt to desired taste.

Bake in 13" by 9" pan or 8" by 8" pan for 1/2 to 1 hour. Cover Last 10 minutes or so. If small amount i.e. Regular or 4 times recipe, use 8" by 8" pan or 10" by 10" pan and bake on 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil the last 10 minues so the top doesn't burn. Just lightly brown the top.