Miranda Lambert was not high on the list of country stars I expected to write a cookbook. Venturing into lifestyle and culinary publications is almost a rite of passage for the female musicians of Nashville: Martina McBride has two, Dolly Parton is working on her third, and Loretta Lynn’s You’re Cooking it Country is legendary. Trisha Yearwood, with four books and a Food Network show, is almost as famous for her cooking at this point as she is for her music.
But the singer of hits like “Gunpowder & Lead,” “Mama’s Broken Heart,” and “If I Was a Cowboy” always struck me as a bit more sequins and bourbon than aprons and biscuits. Fitting, then, that Y’all Eat Yet? Welcome to the Pretty B*tchin’ Kitchen, out April 25 from Dey Street Books, is not your typical Southern cookbook. First of all, even with the “i” starred out, I can’t think of many other country artists who would curse in their cookbook’s subtitle. Part memoir and part cookbook, this is really an ode to the women Lambert grew up with: her grandmother, her mother, and a group of women so close they are more like her aunts than family friends. “So much of who I am as an artist and as a woman has been shaped by the ladies in my life,” she tells me. “They’ve taught me about making a house a home, how to cook, how to get through hard things.”
Hailing from the tiny town of Lindale (population 6,059, as per the last census) in East Texas, Lambert packed her cookbook with Texan dishes: banana pudding, homemade salsa from the garden, her grandfather’s barbecue sauce, pimento cheese, migas, and chili with all the fixings. (“I’m such a sucker for Tex-Mex,” she notes.) The book begins with chapters dedicated to her grandmother Wanda, called Nonny, and her mom, Beverly June. The rest of the chapters are organized by event: Porch Parties, Road Trips, Dinner With the Good China, Holidays in the Bitchin’ Kitchen, and so on. Each chapter begins with an essay in which Lambert reminisces about her childhood and the various dishes that inform her memories of it, followed by recipes.
The book is at its most delightful in several asides: Lambert’s father, apparently a cast-iron pan hobbyist, elaborated on them at length in a section called Daddy Lessons. He recommends frying potatoes in your pans every once in a while because ”something about the starch helps seal the pores in the metal and will make your trusted (not rusted) friend really shine.” Is this scientifically accurate? No idea. Am I going to try it? Absolutely.Another aside finds Lambert discussing, in detail, the proper way to go tubing in New Braunfels. It is maybe the most charming and accurate description of this particular Texan summertime tradition I have ever read. (Did you ever think you’d read Miranda Lambert talking about tube rash? She recommends aloe for prevention.) When I asked her about tubing, she laughed and said, “Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. For every [alcoholic] beverage, have a water. That’s a good tip.” She also recommends premixing cocktails because “it’s a whole ordeal to try to mix a drink in the tube going down a fall. I’ve done it, but some alcohol gets spilled and that’s not cool.” Mixing a cocktail while going over a fast spot in the river? Lambert’s got more skills than singing, that’s for sure.
Whether it was eaten around the campfire after a long day of tubing, on the porch at her parents’ house in Lindale, or at Lambert’s present-day house in Nashville, inevitably the guitars come out after dinner, with friends and family alike joining in. Obviously, these sessions had a deep impact on who Miranda Lambert would grow up to become professionally. But it was the hour before dinner that ultimately influenced who she has become on a personal level, she says, “sitting around the kitchen island, talking about life and chopping onions.”
Below is her recipe for French toast casserole. It’s an easy, homey recipe—it’s not showing off, but it is indulgent enough to make for a random Sunday morning, a birthday brunch, or even Christmas Day breakfast. You can make it the night before, so it’s ready to just pop in the oven when you wake up (see note below recipe). “It’s comfort food,” Lambert says. “We’re big brunchers [and] it’s one of our staples.”
French Toast Casserole
This brunch recipe from country singer Miranda Lambert's cookbook, Y’all Eat Yet?, is an easy, homey recipe that you can prepare the night before.
- Unsalted butter (for greasing)
- 1 loaf French bread
- 8 large eggs
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
For the Topping:
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- Syrup, powdered sugar, or fruit, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-by-8-inch casserole dish with butter.
Tear the bread into chunks and place in the prepared dish. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk, heavy cream, both sugars, and the vanilla. Pour over the bread.
While the bread soaks, make the topping: In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add the butter and use a fork or pastry cutter to mix until crumbly.
Sprinkle the topping over the bread mixture in the casserole dish. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until golden. To serve, top with syrup, powdered sugar, or fruit.
The casserole can be assembled the night before without the topping and refrigerated until ready to bake the following morning. Let the casserole stand at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes, then add the topping and bake.