Christmas!!!

Mennonite Dressing (not Amish)

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Mennonite Dressing
Mennonite Dressing

As long as I can remember, dressing has been an integral part of Christmas dinner. This dressing is not the kind you put on a salad. Oh, no! This dressing is the kind you serve with turkey and the works. In fact, it is an important part of the works. Some people call it stuffing, but we never stuffed it into anything except our tummies. It’s hard to find a bird big enough to pack enough stuffing in for 65 people. It’s one of those foods that many people don’t actually have a recipe for, they just keep adding this and that until it “looks right”.

This dressing is yellow with turmeric, rich with seasonings, broth, milk and eggs, and swimming satisfyingly with Brown Butter. Turmeric used to be a non-item in my mind, in fact I used to think of it as a flavourless powdered food colouring, but recently it is being consumed in greater quantities for its perceived health benefits.

Recently, a friend of mine who had grown up Amish (in fact, he wrote a best-selling book about that experience, and a sequel to it is releasing soon) posted about Roasht on Facebook.  As near as I can make out, Roasht is like Mennonite dressing with chicken and gravy all added to the mix, and sometimes potatoes and carrots. That was interesting to me because the Amish dressing, in this area at least, is very unlike Mennonite dressing and usually the lover of the one will not like the other one. Amish dressing is much drier, using less eggs, or none at all, and has weird things like cinnamon and sometimes raisins added to it. At our church, we get both kinds, because we have people of both backgrounds there. There is always good-natured bantering and lots of ribbing going on over the pots of dressing.

There is one common denominator, however, and that is that they both are a great way to use up all those bread ends languishing in your freezer, and they both need butter, lots of it, to serve it up well. You can go back to munching celery sticks and alfalfa sprouts again afterwards to mitigate it, but Do Not Cut Back On The Butter. And Brown Butter poured over the top is the crowning glory. Any good Mennonite will tell you that Browned Butter is the crowning glory to nearly any vegetable or side and even some desserts and icings.

Here are some tips to help you achieve a great dressing.

  1. Use butter, and use enough of it. 
  2. Brown the bread until it’s toasty and golden. It greatly enhances the flavour.
  3. Use the correct proportion of liquid to bread. There is nothing appealing about a soupy mess. Soup and dressing are two different things.
  4. Use some broth in the liquid. I’m convinced on this point.
  5. Make as much ahead as you can. Toast the bread and top it with the seasonings and cooked vegetables so that you only have to add the eggs and liquids the morning of the event. 

 

Mennonite Dressing

 

The stories and recipes are mine, sponsored by Martin’s Family Fruit Farm.

We sell high quality fresh eggs from Pullets Plus, a local company who gathers eggs from area farmers. Many of the chickens are cage-free. 

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Mennonite Dressing (not Amish)

Ingredients

Mennonite Dressing
Mennonite Dressing

 

  • 2 cups (1 pound) butter, split
  • 4 cups chopped onions
  • 4 cups chopped celery
  • 28 cups bread cubes, toasted*
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme 
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley or 1/4 cup fresh, chopped 
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth* (I use Knorr’s gel packs)
  • 12 eggs, beaten
  • approximately 6 cups milk

In a large pot, melt 1 3/4 cups of butter and saute the onions and celery until they are nearly soft, about 20 minutes. Remove and stir in all the seasonings. Meanwhile, toast the bread cubes in a large roaster or a few pans at 325°F or 163°C for 20 – 30 minutes, stirring several times. Remove from oven and pour the vegetable and seasonings over the pans. This step can be done ahead and kept frozen or chilled.

The day of the event, whisk the eggs, broth and milk together and pour over the bread cubes. Stir gently to mix. You should see just a bit of liquid in the corners of the pan. You may need to add more milk. 

Pack lightly into lined and/or greased slow cooker. Using the Reynold’s slow cooker liners makes for easy clean-up, if you can find them. Grease the liner well. Cook on low for 4 – 6 hours, depending on your cooker. If your cooker is slow, you may want to start it on high for an hour. 

Brown and stir butter over med-high heat in a flat pan until you start seeing a spiral of golden brown appearing in the centre. Pour the browned butter over the dressing just before serving. 

*This recipe can easily be made gluten- free by using gf bread and broth.

**This is a large recipe for a large 6 quart slow cooker. It can easily be halved for a smaller cooker or crowd.