COOK OF THE WEEK: Bret Hutcheson of Tupelo

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – If it weren’t for his grandmothers, Bret Hutcheson probably wouldn’t be the cook he is today.
Mittie Hutcheson, his father’s mother, lived in Baldwyn.
“When I was little, she used to make me baby biscuits” by cutting out dough with an empty medicine bottle, said Hutcheson 29. “And she’d make taffy for us to play with. She’s the one who really got me into cooking.”
And then there was Eunell Orear of Fulton, his maternal grandmother.
“In the summers, my cousin and I spent a lot of time with her,” said Hutcheson, who grew up in the Altitude community outside Booneville. “She would get us outside to pick plums and blackberries and dig up potatoes. Then, she’d make us cobblers from those blackberries. I kind of played around with making cobblers myself.”
Her recipe for chicken and dumplings formed the basis for the one Hutcheson uses today.
“I don’t use her exact recipe. I came up with my own,” he said. “Hers didn’t have vegetables in it.”
And like his grandmothers, Hutcheson likes to prepare food and share it with friends.
“I make way too much for just me and my roommate to eat,” said Hutcheson, an independent contractor for Journal Inc. “I just put it in bowls and take it to folks, especially when I make chicken and dumplings or chicken noodle soup.”

Pool parties
If his friends are really lucky, they might even get invited to Hutcheson’s east Tupelo home for a pool party.
“We have people over quite a lot, especially in the summertime,” he said. “People come over and get in the pool and we grill out hamburgers or hot dogs or steaks. I’ll make potato salad or slaw – something like that. When people come over I don’t like to be in the kitchen. I like to be out by the pool.”
One thing Hutcheson’s friends are particularly fond of are his poolside dips, like his corn dip and his sausage and cheese dip.
But if it’s a family gathering, all bets are off unless someone makes Aunt Brenda’s Potato Casserole.
“It’s not a holiday if we don’t have that,” he said. “One year, she didn’t make it and everybody missed it. So I got the recipe and now one of us is sure to make it every year.”

Aunt Sandy’s Sausage Cheese Dip
1 pound ground pork sausage
1 (16-ounce) block processed cheese
1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
Cook sausage, crumble and set aside. Cut cheese into squares, put in a large bowl and melt in the microwave. After the cheese has melted, add sour cream and sausage. Serve with Fritos Scoops or your favorite dipping chip.

Corn Dip
2 cans Mexicorn
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
1 bunch green onions, chopped
8 ounces shredded processed cheese
Dash of garlic salt
Drain corn and pour into large bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream
1 gallon chocolate milk
1 (8-ounce) container Cool Whip
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Combine ingredients and put in ice cream freezer. Follow directions on your freezer for making ice cream.

Aunt Rita’s Macaroni Salad
1 small package elbow macaroni, boiled and drained
1 (8-ounce) package John Morrell diced ham
1 onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon sugar
Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Chicken Noodle Soup
10 cups water
3 large chicken breast halves, with skin
8 chicken bouillon cubes
1 onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 (12-ounce) package wide egg noodles
1 (26-ounce) family-size can cream of chicken soup
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
Chopped parsley
Place water and chicken in a stock pot and bring to a boil. When chicken is done, remove it from the water, debone, chop and set aside. Add bouillon cubes, onion, celery and noodles to broth and cook until noodles are tender. Add soup and chopped chicken and simmer an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add sour cream and sprinkle with parsley. Great served with garlic bread sticks.

Chicken and Dumplings
10 cups water
3 large chicken breast halves, with skin
8 chicken bouillon cubes
1 onion, chopped
1 rib celery chopped
2 carrots chopped
1 (26-ounce) family-size can cream of chicken soup
3 cup baking mix, such as Bisquick
1 cup milk.
Place water and chicken in a stock pot and bring to a boil. When chicken is done, remove it from the water, debone, chop and set aside.
Add bouillon cubes, onions, celery and carrots to broth and simmer until carrots are tender. Add soup and chicken and simmer until soup is dissolved.
Combine baking mix and milk and mix until a you get a thick dough, about the texture of biscuit dough. Using a tablespoon, slowly drop dumplings into the soup and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Cover with lid and simmer slowly for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until dumplings are done.

Aunt Brenda’s Potato Casserole
5 baking potatoes, thinly sliced
1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 stick butter, divided
2 cups shredded mild Cheddar cheese
1 onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 sleeve Ritz Crackers, crushed
Boil potatoes until tender. Drain and set aside. Combine sour cream, soups, 2 tablespoons butter, cheese and onion in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. In a casserole, layer potatoes and soup mixture finishing with soup mixture on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and remove from oven. Top casserole with crushed crackers. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter and drizzle over crackers. Bake an additional 10 minutes.

Pineapple Rum Cake
1 box butter recipe yellow cake mix
1 small box instant vanilla pudding mix
1/4 cup coconut rum
1/2 cup pineapple juice or heavy syrup
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1/4 cup water
1 (2-ounce) package chopped pecans
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter
1/4 cup coconut rum and pineapple juice mixed
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray and pour pecans into the bottom of the pan. Mix all cake ingredients on low with electric mixer until mixed well. Pour into Bundt pan and cook 50 to 55 minutes. Insert a knife and remove to be sure cake is done.
In a medium saucepan, combine syrup ingredients and simmer for 3 minutes. Poke holes in cake and pour syrup over cake and let it soak in for 30 minutes. Invert cake onto serving plate and allow it to sit several minutes before removing the pan.

Do you know a good cook? Send your nominations to Ginna Parsons, Cook of the Week, P.O. Box 909, Tupelo, MS 38802. Or you can fax them to (662) 842-2233 or e-mail them to

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