Tuesday, November 16, 2010

MMarilyn Monroe's Dressing Recipe (makes 20 cups)

This is an intriguing find: A hand-written copy of a dressing recipe copied by Marilyn Monroe. While the process seems time-consuming, it also sounds very interesting because it lacks broth and binder. I have listed the ingredients here as listed on the recipe above and what the times discovered in their trial.

Marilyn Monroe's Dressing Recipe (makes 20 cups)

1 loaf of French bread, soaked in water, wrung out and shredded
turkey or chicken giblets (she specifies liver and heart-I will use the neck) boiled 5-10 minutes or until done
1 onion chopped
2 c. parsley according to NY Times trial or to your own tastes
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 tsp sage
2 tsp marjoram
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp nutmeg
bay leaf
1 c. parmesan
1/2 to 1 lb ground round, browned (NO OIL)
1/2 c. raisins
1/3 c. water chestnuts
1/3 c. walnuts
1/3 c. pine nuts
1 or 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped

Mix together and bake.




The recipe is unorthodox for an American stuffing in its use of a bread loaf soaked in water, wrung dry and shredded, and in its lack of added fat, broth, raw egg or any other binder.

For recipe-restoration geeks like us, this was a challenge we couldn’t resist, especially as we head into high season for stuffing. Our goal was to fill in the blanks and produce a stuffing recipe that anyone could complete successfully. Of all the souvenirs of Marilyn’s life available, this was the one we actually wanted.

From the start, we agreed to embrace the period in which the recipe was written, and resisted the temptation to substitute fresh rosemary and ginger for the dried variety. “Fragments” dates the recipe to 1955 or 1956, when Marilyn lived in an apartment at 2 Sutton Place. We conjured up images of her prowling the aisles at D’Agostino’s on First Avenue in a crepe dress and heels (this is the era of “The Seven Year Itch”), and followed along as she purchased a loaf of bread, the ground round and all those jars of dried herbs. Our only true departure — to blend sage, marjoram, ground ginger and nutmeg in place of the commercial poultry seasoning she used — was informed by what typically goes into such products.

Another judgment call was to interpret her “walnuts/ chestnuts/ pinenuts } 1 cup chop nuts” as calling for a third of a cup of each nut. Three small measures of each seemed fussy, but she had three husbands, after all, so why not three nuts? To arrive at the amount of parsley, we let it equal the volume of the onion and the celery, which measured in at two cups each.

The most unnerving thing about the recipe is its laboriousness. More than two hours passed as we soaked and shredded sourdough (to be fair, soggy sourdough nearly shreds itself), peeled hard-boiled eggs, simmered livers in water, browned the beef, cracked pepper, chopped and measured. When the ingredients were finally laid out, they filled 15 ramekins and bowls. Did Marilyn really have this much time on her hands?

When we gingerly tossed everything together in our largest bowl (the recipe yielded more than 20 cups), we were amazed to discover one of the most handsome stuffings we’ve encountered. The odd elements, like the profusion of raisins and the chopped egg, suddenly made sense, becoming pleasant color contrasts. Moreover, the mixture was delicious, a nice balance of vegetables, meats and bold seasonings, just faintly, tonically sweet from the raisins. Even the texture was superior, a fluffy, damp blend that packed well into a chicken cavity and emerged loosely gelled. Subsequent tests employed slight tweaks but the original genius (and the heroic volume) of her recipe remained fundamentally the same.

SOURCE: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/10/dining/10marilyn.html?_r=1

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