Known in the Coal Region as “Lithuanian Cracker Filling” (“stuffing” in many parts, but more often than not “filling” to a coal cracker/Dutchie!). This recipe more than likely did not originate in Lithuania where, if made, it would have been with bread, but rather came about in the kitchens of Lithuanian Americans, many of who settled in The Anthracite Coal Region.
It is a well-known dish served in Lithuanian American homes and many of our grandmas and moms made it. Back in the day, this recipe often called for Royal Lunch Milk Crackers, however, Nabisco no longer manufactures them and another “look alike” by the same name gets bad reviews on Amazon. Saltine crackers are actually called for in many recipes today and people now use saltines as a substitute in their recipes that originally used the milk crackers.
This recipe is one passed down from a Lithuanian family recipe collection with the following note: “I always bake this in a buttered casserole, not in the bird” and “I like to add giblets or chicken liver like my mom did” (If you do not want to use giblets, they are optional)
Is there anywhere to buy the authentic style “milk crackers”?
A product called “Heritage Mills Milk Crackers” can be found in the Northeast US at Market Basket, Hannaford’s, Stop and Shop, and some other stores (your mileage may vary, check with your local markets). Amazon also sells them, but they are kind of expensive to obtain that way.
As I noted before, Amazon also carries a produce called “Royal Milk Crackers” (blue box), but the reviews on that brand are pretty dismal, so proceed at your own risk with those. I have personally used the Heritage Mills brand when living in New England and was quite satisfied with them myself. Again, your mileage may vary.
Old-fashioned Lithuanian Cracker FillingCourse: SidesCuisine: Eastern European, Coal RegionDifficulty: Easy
1 generous cup chopped celery
1 generous cup chopped onion
1 stick butter
4 cups coarsely crushed Saltine cracker crumbs or milk crackers
1-1/2 cup whole milk
2 beaten eggs
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning (to your taste)
Salt and pepper to taste (keep in mind salt will vary if using salted top or unsalted top crackers)
OPTIONAL: Chopped giblets or some chicken livers
- Cook celery and onions in butter until tender, adding chopped giblets if desired.
- Crush crackers coarsely (hand crushing in the sleeve for saltines works well.) Pour into mixing bowl.
- Scald milk, then add to coarsely crushed cracker crumbs. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Gently, but thoroughly stir in onion mixture, eggs, parsley, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Mix gently but well.
- Spread into buttered casserole dish. (Filling will puff lightly when baking due to the eggs, use a deep enough dish)
- Bake 350F for 50 – 55 minutes or until nicely browned on the top.
- Keep in mind you do not want this to turn to complete mush as you mix.