PA Dutch Wet Bread stuffing

japanese cake

This is another one of my wife’s PA dutch dishes triggered by our recent trip to rural Pennsylvania. It is essentially, a hybrid of mashed potato and bread stuffing but it tastes more like mashed potatoes than bread stuffing. When my wife was growing up, she used to eat something called wet bread stuffing served in the school cafeteria as a side dish for lunch. She remembers it as a loaf cut into slices and heated with a gelatinous texture.  Not one of her favorites as a child (it was that gelatinous texture) but as an adult she was curious to try it again. After some searching she found this recipe and though this may be it.

Ingredients (for 8 servings):

2 1⁄4 lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped

4 slices white bread, torn into pieces (My wife used Pepperidge Farm flavored bread stuffing about 2 cups). Several of the recipes go into great detail on how to handled the bread such as toasting it, frying it, and other methods to dry it out.

1⁄2 cup diced onion

1⁄2 cup diced celery

Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Saute the onions and celery until the onions are just translucent and soft
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  3. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes.
  4. Drain, mash, salt and pepper to taste. Add enough milk and butter to give the mashed potatoes a very creamy texture. They should be a bit more liquid than usual for mashed potatoes because the dried bread soaks up the extra liquid. At this point just the potatoes themselves are good. 
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Lightly grease a 2 quart casserole dish.
  7. In a large bowl, mix together the potatoes, white bread (or flavored stuffing), onion, celery, salt and pepper. (First picture below)
  8. Pour into prepared casserole dish, dot with pads of butter (second picture below) and bake for 1 hour. (Final picture below).

(Mix the seasoned bread stuffing with the mashed potato).

(Fill casserole and dot the surface with butter).

(Bake for one hour at 350F).

This was not exactly the dish she remembered from her childhood. For one thing, there was no gelatinous texture and it was very good. The bread stuffing completely amalgamated with the potatoes. The flavored stuffing really made the dish savory. It was like mashed potatoes but different. It must have been a great way for PA Dutch cooks to use stale bread and leftover mashed potatoes. The first day, it didn’t hold together and we spooned it onto the plate as shown in the picture above but a few days later it could be sliced. My wife is still curious about the concoction she ate as a kid but from her descriptions of it, I’m glad this was not it.

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