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Rob "Gronk" Gronkowski, the tight end for the New England Patriots heading to his fifth Super Bowl on Sunday, was raised on good comfort food. And lots of it.
His mother, Diane Gronkowski Walters, spoke with TODAY's Sheinelle Jones on the latest episode of "Through Mom's Eyes" about what motherhood was like with five — yes, five! — busy boys in the house. It took a lot of groceries, a ton of food prep and plenty of running around. But Walters' sons have all been incredibly successful.
Her oldest, Gordon Gronkonski, 36, played professional baseball. Dan, 34, Chris, 32, Rob, 29, and Glen, 25, all made it to the NFL.
The odds of having just three children make it to the NFL is one in 31 million, so four is practically a miracle.
And since all of Walters' sons love her classic family recipe, it turns out that the secret to their success might just be in the sauce ... or rather the Miracle Whip.
"When you hear the guys talk, they're always talking about how they miss your home-cooked meals, how they looked forward to the home-cooked meals. And this was one of their favorites," Sheinelle said to Walters about her famed chicken soufflé.
Gronkowski has even tweeted about the dish.
In addition to cooking up big batches of food, Walters told TODAY that she thrived (and survived) by staying organized. As the boys were growing up, whenever she cooked, she cooked four or five dishes and often froze them so dinner just had to be reheated when her troops came home. On many nights, shuffling the boys to their sports practices and games, Walters had a hot plate sitting in the car waiting for them.
No wonder they miss mom's food.
So what is it exactly about this savory soufflé that basically turned a family of boys into athletic American superheroes?
Sheinelle took Walters to the kitchen to find out. "Not everyone gets this recipe," Walters said.
Like many seasoned home cooks, Walters says she never measures anything, so anyone watching at home has to dice, dump and hope for the best.
The ingredients include:
- Miracle Whip (but any plain mayo will do)
- About 8 pieces of bread, cubed (white, whole wheat, leftover buns or rolls all work)
- 4 eggs
- Milk (enough to thoroughly soak the bread)
- Chicken, pre-cooked and diced
- Can of mushroom soup
- Cheddar cheese
To make the souffle, Walters layers a casserole dish with half of the cubed bread, then adds the chicken, celery and Miracle Whip. She adds more bread, pours milk and eggs over the ingredients (that's the soufflé part of the dish) and lets it all soak for a bit before putting it in the oven for about an hour. Once it's baked, she pours mushroom soup on top and sprinkles on shredded cheddar cheese before popping it back in the oven.
"This is chicken soufflé, my mom's recipe," Walters said. "I don't know where she got it. But this has been something that has been around. And they love it. And their friends love it. And their friends want me to mail it to them."
After tasting a bite, Sheinelle might be asking for a special delivery, too.
"Oh my gosh. Yum. This is like the best day ever," Sheinelle said.
While Sheinelle definitely approved of the filled dish, many people have a love-hate relationship with mayo-like condiments. The internet had a meltdown when a video of two sports fans eating mayo out of a container went viral and totally freaked out over mayonnaise-flavored ice cream.
But Gronk's favorite childhood dish might just change the haters' minds — especially if they're already rooting for the Patriots on Sunday.