I have to be honest, I’ve only have a few Thanksgiving holidaze under my belt where I wasn’t a “child” or enjoying a casual holiday with friends in the city. For a few years, my parents would come to Brooklyn and enjoy Thanksgiving with me….but guess what I did? I pre-ordered cooked turkey and glorious side dishes from the local health food grocery (there was no Whole Foods at the time). During my 20′s my kitchen was strictly for making eggs-n-kale, beans and rice and various pasta dishes. For the past couple of years, my husband and I started a tradition of making a mini-Thanksgiving on Black Friday.Just for us.
Now I’m a mother. Whole. Different. Story. Now, establishing a “tradition” seems urgent/necessary/fundamental. Everyone asks me “what are your plans?” PRESSURE!!!! I know the first tradition starting this year- I’m running Troy’s 5K Turkey Trot. I’ll be running with (far, far behind) fellow club members and marathoners Sarah & Amanda (and her husband Eric). The second new tradition is Miles’ food allergies. We didn’t know the extent to his allergies last year as he was only 10 months old on Thanksgiving. Hee was still eating (mushing, spitting, drooling) rice cereal, fruits and vegetables. Our first (and only) jump into the anaphylaxic-waters would be on December 9, 2009 and then shocking test results in January 2010. Our third and final new tradition we will be hosting Thanksgiving here for whomever wants to show. We will visit my extended family after the Turkey Trot ( before nap time and their Thanksgiving meals) to show off Miles’ new found love of “counting” everything….two….three….two…..
So as I prepare for our first Thanksgiving with food allergies, I’ve noticed that besides the deserts, stuffing is the other allergy-alert side dish: gluten bread, nuts, butter. Most of thanksgiving dishes can be easily made with olive oil instead of butter, and sunflower seeds instead of walnuts or pecans (I’m thinking of a nutty green bean dish)..ect…ect. It’s a nice holiday in the fact that the side dishes are usually vegetable-laden. Awesome! Now, that said my past Thanksgiving haven’t had sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, so I feel that it can be a bountiful harvest feast loaded with nutrition. I digress, stuffing, was my food project this past weekend.
I’ve never made stuffing before but I knew from my repeated gluten-free baking that I didn’t want to use a run-of-the-mill gluten-free bread, either store-bought like Udi’s* or Rudi’s*, or one made from scratch because I just knew the bread component would turn out tasteless and most likely soggy. I decided to use corn bread! My gluten and allergen-free (all 8 allergens) corn bread recipe comes from Cybele Pascal‘s The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook. It is the essential baking book for people who need to be gluten/wheat free AND other allergens (amazon link). I’ve found that most-not-all gluten free cookbooks don’t work for us because they include tree nut flours like almond or dairy and soy products. So Ms. Pascal’s book is a lifesaver.
That said, the corn bread doesn’t have to be gluten-free you can use ANY corn bread recipe you have. Since I had never made stuffing I consulted Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, Simple Recipes, and Allrecipes and 101Cookbooks. They are all variations on a theme… so I felt confident I could make something on a whim. I looked in my pantry & frig and went to it! I have to say that this recipe is VERY quick to make and it might turn into a one-pot meal for us in the future. I make corn bread about twice a month during colder months so we can have it with chili or soups. Since I made it 10 days before Thanksgiving we will have a ton of it for meals this week. I decided at the last-minute to add a tiny bit of ground turkey, about 1/4 pound to give it some protein but I don’t see why a can of cantillini beans wouldn’t be an amazing addition in the dish. Both Miles & Chuck enjoyed the stuffing. It’s a good thing because we will be eating it all week long…just in time to make it again for next Thursday- haha!
MJ’ Corn Bread Stuffing
(this serves about 4 people so double for a large gathering)
1 small onion, small dice
2 celery ribs, small dice
2 small carrots or 1 large, grated
1/2 large turnip, grated
1/4 celeriac (celery root), grated
2 T olive oil
1/2 loaf of corn bread (ANY corn bread), small to large chunks, I varied the sizes
1/2 cranberries (or raisins)
1/2 apple, skin on, small dice
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
2 T sesame seeds, lightly toasted
2 T Flax seeds, lightly toasted
2 cups chicken or veggie stock
1 T Rosemary
S & P to taste
OPTION #1: 1/4 finely chopped kale/collard/swiss chard/spinach
OPTION #2: 1/4 pound of ground turkey or lamb OR 1 can of cantillini beans. Since this was a test run, I added a 1/4 pound as we are going to have this as a main dish tonight for dinner then as a side dish the rest of the week.
1) Make your corn bread recipe a few days in advance so that it can dry out a bit. I made my only one day before, so I threw the half loaf into the toaster oven on 300 degrees for 30 minutes to dry out. Then I chopped it up then toasted it. The other half I saved for this week’s meals. Another note: I make my corn bread in a cast iron skillet.
2) Throw your seeds into a cast iron skillet or saute pan and lightly toast. Do not burn- yucka.
3) In a dutch oven or medium to large stockpot: heat then add the olive oil and your aromatics; celery, onion, carrots. Cook until translucent. Then add turnips, celery root, cranberries, apples and seeds. Let simmer for a few minutes. The dish will be on the dry side by this point as the only liquid is from the olive oil and the water that has released from the veggies and apples.
4) Add the 2 cups of broth, preferably warm or hot, and stir. Add 1 T of rosemary. Let it come to a simmer for a few minutes and then at the last-minute I dumped in the corn bread cubes. I lightly mixed it then simmered on low for 15-25 minutes, on low, until all the ingredients seems warm and the stock has been absorbed by the bread.
5) If you want some greens in the mix, add 1/4 cup of kale now. Stir.
6) If you want to add ground meat, saute meat separately in a pan. I use Amanda’s tip and add a splash of allspice to the meat, mine was turkey, and then once cooked I gently added it into the stuffing. If using beans, I would add back in step 3.
* BOTH breads are amazing; I HIGHLY recommend. We have both brands in permanent stock in our frig. Udi’s “white” bread for Chuck and Rudi’s Multigrain for me and Rudi’s Cinamon Raisin for all of us. Udi’s link is to a $1 off coupon.