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John Wayne Casserole.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center cafeteria staff serves an amazing dish every so often called John Wayne Casserole. My husband, a faculty member, raves about this dish, and I would love to have the recipe. Would it be possible to request the recipe from the hospital staff? I'm sure many Mississippi Magazine readers would enjoy this spicy dish!

Angie Henegar



Well, this isn't something you hear every day. Someone requests--of all things--hospital food. We have all been there, visiting a hospital patient and needing to grab a bite to eat, and the cafeteria is the only option. However, at the University Medical Center (UMC) in Jackson, that option is a delightful choice. And for one employee, it's a pleasure to make it that way. Resa Williams, food production manager at UMC for 22 years, shares, "We work hard to create a 'restaurant-type' atmosphere where employees and visitors can choose from a variety of food options, ranging from daily food specials to made-to-order salads and sandwiches at some of the dining areas."

According to Williams, the staff frequently introduces new dishes but maintains old favorites for the employees, and they aggressively seek employee input in order to better serve them. "I feel like our employees are family. I take the same care in providing food for them as I do for my own family," shares Williams. The John Wayne Casserole is one of those old favorites. Served every other Thursday and nicknamed "The Duke," it has been a menu staple for 15 years. They once stopped serving the dish, but the retirement was brief--it was returned to the kitchen's repertoire due to much demand. Other popular items include oven-fried chicken, breakfast items, and, as Williams states, "the famous White Chocolate Bread Pudding. We've had people drive over from Louisiana to buy the bread pudding."

The John Wayne Casserole with Southwestern flavors quickly became a cafeteria favorite when it was introduced. "It was not unusual to see lines out the cafeteria door, and it has always been a top seller," says Williams. "We've tried putting other menu items up against it, but it still proves to be the one that people want." The spicy concoction is clearly a preferred dish and likely to be a part of UMC cafeteria's offerings for years to come. And as long as Williams is there, you can rest assured that it will be served up with a helping of heartfelt home-baked goodness. "The most rewarding part of my job is that I make a difference every day with the work that I do. I make sure the food is of the highest quality and that both our cafeteria guests and patients receive the best dining experience," adds Williams.

2 pounds ground beef, cooked and drained
1 (1.25-ounce) packet taco seasoning
4 ounces sour cream
4 ounces mayonnaise
8 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
1 yellow onion, sliced
2 cups biscuit mix
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 (4-ounce) can sliced jalapeno peppers

Brown ground beef and add taco seasoning and water, according to packet
instructions, and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine sour cream,
mayonnaise, 4 ounces of cheddar cheese, and half of onions, and set
aside. Stir biscuit mix and water (directions on box) to form soft
dough. Pat dough on bottom and one-half-inch up the sides of an
11x17-inch greased casserole dish. Saute remaining onions and bell
peppers until slightly tender. On top of biscuit mix, evenly distribute
ingredients in the following order: ground beef, tomato slices, green
peppers, onions, jalapeno peppers, sour cream mixture and end with
remaining shredded cheese. Bake in 325-degree oven for 30-40 minutes or
until edges of dough are lightly browned.

Yield: 6-9 servings


2500 North State St. | Jackson (Just around the corner from the central elevators in the teaching hospital)

Open 24 hours |

photography by ron blaylock
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Title Annotation:dish it out
Author:Ward, Melanie M.
Publication:Mississippi Magazine
Date:Mar 1, 2011
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