Can we just please take a minute to talk about stuffing? Basically, the best part of the Thanksgiving table is that delicious combination of herbs, vegetables and bread that just exudes fall with every steamy bite. Those crispy edges of bread combined with the warming taste of sage and rosemary. The bread just soaks up all the delicious flavour and delivers it to your mouth in a perfect little morsel.
Ummmmm wait….this is a paleo blog….we don’t do bread around here.
As I’ve told you before, I didn’t embrace this little grain free adventure in the most gracious way. Thanksgiving posed a real challenge to me because, in my mind, stuffing is essential to it’s celebration. Stuffing is not a Portuguese thing but I remember begging my mom to make it for our family as a kid. I remember the joy I felt when she brought home that red Stove Top stuffing box. My parents spent so much time teaching me how to be Portuguese, that red box represented me teaching them a thing or two about being Canadian. Eventually as I got older, I started making stuffing from scratch, cubing up bread and leaving it out overnight to dry up. It’s funny how much love I have for stuffing because I only make it once a year at Thanksgiving which is a type of restraint I don’t seem to apply to say, oh double chocolate brownies. I suppose this is what places it in that “extra special, I love you forever” food category.
Traditional bread based stuffing had such a stronghold over me that I continued to make it at Thanksgiving even after going paleo. I figured, what’s the big deal eating a heaping plate of delicious gluten once a year? Until I realized that stuffing just turned me into a heap of gluten aftermath. Super bloated, mostly grouchy and feeling sleepy was what was left of my bread-y stuffing indulgence. I eventually came around and decided that the pleasure I felt on my palate was simply not worth it. (As a side note, this is in complete contrast to M, who decides he’s going to kick everything that is good and glutenous and then actually abstains from it. Every time. No exceptions. I know, I married some weird font of self-control. I prefer to take the long, bread-lined way toward to a goal).
At first glance, it seems that the best way to make a paleo stuffing is to replace the bread with a grain-free bread alternative. But I just can’t be bothered with baking up a loaf of paleo bread and making a turkey, cranberry sauce, potatoes, green beans etc. etc. Let’s cut ourselves some slack shall we? Besides, bread, glutenous or paleo has very little nutritional value to it so why not replace it with something that is actually nutrient rich, lower carb and high in antioxidants? That way you can enjoy the other 23 dishes of Thanksgiving without any guilt.
This grain free stuffing replaces the bread with a triple textural threat: crumbled sausage, roasted butternut squash and roasted mushrooms. Together these bring some structure and heft to the stuffing.
This stuff is a serious hit every year at our house for adults and kids alike. Thanksgiving has passed for us here in Canada; I made a double batch of this stuffing and it all disappeared and for that I am very thankful. I hope it brings the same amount of joy to your holiday table. Happy Thanksgiving!
|The Best Grain Free Thanksgiving Stuffing|| |
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, cored and cut into a fine dice (approx 5mm x 5mm)
- 24 cremini mushrooms, washed and quartered
- 3 tbsp of butter, divided. 2 tbsp melted and 1 tbsp at room temp*
- Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 Italian sausages
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 stalks of celery, diced
- A handful of celery leaves, finely chopped
- 2 large carrots, diced
- 2 apples, peeled and diced
- Olive oil
- 1 tsp fresh sage, chopped
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
- 1 150g bag of roasted peeled chestnuts, halved.
- ¼ cup chicken stock
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Place the diced butternut squash on a baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with the melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Roast until golden, about 40 minutes.
- Place the quartered mushrooms on a baking sheet in a single layer, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast until browned, 20 minutes.
- Remove the mushrooms and squash and set aside to cool.
- Place a large skillet on a medium high heat. Squeeze the sausage out of the casing and into the pan breaking it up. Brown the crumbled sausage fully, approximately 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- To the skillet, add 1 tbsp of butter and sauté the onion, celery and carrots for a few minutes until fragrant.
- Add the apples and herbs to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and sauté for 8-10minutes until the apples are soft but still hold their shape.
- Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil and then turn heat back down to medium.
- Add the chestnuts and crumbled sausage to the pan.
- Lastly, add the roasted butternut squash and mushrooms to the pan. Gently stir. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Place the stuffing mix into the baking dish and spread out evenly. Bake, uncovered for 20 minutes.