There are certain things Bunny and I require for Thanksgiving, which is always at her house in Knoxville. We require green bean bundles. We require Waldorf salad. We require broccoli-cheese-rice casserole, mashed potato casserole and banana pudding. But we have always relied on Ramsey’s for the cornbread dressing, gravy and turkey. Partly it’s a matter of oven space and partly it’s the fact that Mike Ramsey just makes those three things better then we do.
So I can’t tell you the horror I felt a few weeks ago when Bunny called to say Ramsey’s was closing. We have been feasting on Mike’s dressing, gravy and turkey for years, and I mean decades. It was partly a matter of leases gone wrong and a move to a less-than-perfect location, but the quality of Mike’s food was never at issue. Households throughout the greater Knoxville area were despondent at the news.
Bunny bought a 19-pound turkey, which was going to take up enormous oven space. I volunteered to make the dressing and gravy (Bunny is not allowed to make gravy after the Rocco DiSpirito jarred pork gravy fiasco. And I worried over this. I consulted more than 12 cookbooks as to the most delicious cornbread dressing. I had never considered making my own because Mike’s is so good. I made a shopping list for turkey wings and other necessities for making turkey stock for the gravy. I had never considered making the gravy because Mike’s is so good.
Well, thank goodness for Facebook. I logged on the other day and there was a post from Bunny that Mike is still catering Thanksgiving. And he even agreed to cook the 19-pound turkey for her. I am so relieved. Bunny has ordered two pans of dressing, four quarts of gravy and the turkey will arrive already sliced. All I have to do is make a few pies and the scalloped oysters (Bunny hates oysters, but it’s a tradition from my dad’s side of the family and, as we’ve just seen, tradition dies hard.
I am now officially relieved. I don’t know Mike’s recipe for dressing and gravy, but I am going to give you Bunny’s official recipe for broccoli, rice and cheese casserole. It’s always the first thing to go.
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped broccoli
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup butter
1 1/3 cup cooked rice
1 8-ounce jar processed cheese spread (that’s Cheez Whiz, of course. God bless Bunny)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
Combine broccoli and onion. Cook according to the package directions. Drain and add remaining ingredients. Pour into greased two-quart casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.