Chapin dressing

It’s not pretty. It’s just not. But it’s all I’ve been thinking about all week.

I call this “Northern” dressing. When I serve it here, people look at me funny. Where’s the cornbread? But this dressing is like a warm hug from my past.

They called my dad “the surgeon.” As an accountant, he approached cooking in a very systematic way. For the dressing, which came from his side of the family, the celery and onions had to be diced just so. When Louise and I were children, we’d stand by his elbow as he dissected the onions and celery and dispatched them with mathematical precision. It wasn’t until we were teenagers that he even considered letting us help.

Troy A. Chapin, Jr.’s hand-written dressing recipe circa 1960.

So just like a contestant on a Food Network show, I’ll try to get points now describing this dressing. It’s ultra moist from the addition of chicken stock and lots of melted butter to white bread cubes, contrasting with the crispness of the celery, onion and parsley that go into the recipe uncooked. The flavors are rounded out with Thanksgiving forward herbs like sage, rosemary and nutmeg.

This year the Chapin dressing is going viral. We’ll have it here at 5117 and Noah is making it for a Friendsgiving in Monterey. Now that I think of it, the dressing has already gone international because he made it for a gathering in Moscow last Thanksgiving.

I wonder what my father would think. This dressing started out served at the holiday table in small farming communities in Southern Illinois. I wish I’d asked him if he knew how long it’s been in our family. Since our ancestors came over on the Mayflower maybe they brought the recipe with them. Yea, that’s it. That’s the story I’m sticking with.

Chapin Family Dressing

16 cups soft bread cubes, including crusts

1 cup diced onion

2 cups diced celery

½ cup chopped parsley

1 cup melted butter

2 cups chicken broth

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons poultry seasoning

2 teaspoons crushed sage leaves

½ teaspoon pepper

Put bread cubes in large bowl. Mix the diced onion, celery and parsley together in a separate bowl. Mix the salt, poultry seasoning, sage and pepper together in a small bowl. Add the seasonings to the vegetables and mix well. Add the melted butter to the bread cubes and distribute evenly. Add the chicken stock and then the vegetable/seasoning mixture.

Spoon into a loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the top is nicely browned.

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