This was on every, and I mean every, holiday table throughout my entire childhood.
As the four of us grew up and flew the coop, we all called home for this recipe to serve to our new mothers-in-law or boyfriends or roommates.
Wait. Not true. The baby never called home for Grandma’s carrots because he is spoiled and someone always makes these for him.
When you are the youngest boy with three older sisters, you merely have to *think* of something you want and one of us will procure it. (Once, before we all moved to Austin, one sister called me to talk smack about the other sister after Thanksgiving: “I hate when we are all together. Cortney just HOGS Drew the entire time!” LOL. We need counseling.)
Get ready, everyone.
- 1 (32-ounce) bag carrots
- 1 (16-ounce) brick Velveeta
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, plus 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you like)
- 2 cups Pepperidge Farm herb-seasoned stuffing
Note: Let’s talk about the carrots first. I love my grandma King. I do. God rest her blessed memory. God love her costume jewelry, her acrylic nails, her floor-length mink, and her basement full of Chico’s tunics. But Grandma used canned carrots in her recipe, and it was a bridge too far when we re-created this as adults. Vegetables I will allow out of a can: Le Sueur peas, pickled asparagus, corn. That’s it. That’s the list. This feels generous, because we grew up with Veg-All, may God have mercy on our souls.
Preheat your oven to 350°F and butter a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Peel and slice your carrots on an angle, not too thick. Oh! You are forbidden to use baby carrots. Those are an affront to nature. What even the heck with fake baby carrots.
Drop your sliced Carrots From The Earth™ into that boiling water and cook until firmish-tender, 12 to 15 minutes, then drain.
Meanwhile, put the Velveeta, half-and-half, and the 6 tablespoons butter into a microwave-safe bowl and zap it for a minute at a time, stirring after each zap, until you have a creamy, smooth cheese concoction, 3 to 4 minutes total. We tried to get fancy with this one year and used real cheese, and it was an abomination. You will use the Velveeta and you will like it.
In your buttered casserole dish, spread a layer of carrots, then follow with a sprinkling of salt and black pepper and cayenne, a layer of the stuffing (use 1 cup here), a layer of the cheese sauce, the rest of the carrots plus S&P and cayenne, then pour the rest of the cheese mix all over the whole thing. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes.
Take it out and switch the oven to broiler. Top the casserole with the remaining 1 cup stuffing mix, drizzle with the 4 tablespoons melted butter, and put it under the broiler on the middle rack for 3 to 5 minutes, until the stuffing is browned and crunchy.
Whatever, haters! Don’t you dare knock Grandma King’s cheese carrots until you’ve tried them.
Sure, I considered elevating this recipe with garlic or fresh herbs or some sophisticated substitution, but guess what? I prefer the 1980s green bean casserole with cream of mushroom soup and canned fried onions over the food blogger versions, too.
Get out of here with “pickled shallots” on top. I can’t wait for y’all to make these and love them. I cannot quit laughing. I’ll make these until I die.
For more recipes, grab a copy of Feed These People and thank me later.