To make the very best gluten free stuffing of your life this holiday season, you only need a few important elements: toasted bread cubes, onions, celery, eggs, herbs and chicken stock. From there, make it your own!
It’s time. Time to talk turkey. And by “turkey,” I mean gluten free stuffing. (Really dressing, since I’m not cooking the stuffing inside the turkey.) Because I’ve tried every which way to make turkey (except for deep-frying it which I so want to try but don’t have an enormous deep-fryer, and except for baking it in a bag like one reader suggested), and if you want my opinion, no matter what it just tastes … like turkey.
I think this year I’m just going to spatchcock the poor bird, rub it with an herb butter and let it do its thing. But Thanksgiving stuffing? Stuffing I could talk about for days and days… This is your most classic of Thanksgiving stuffings, but it should come as no surprise that for me it’s all about the gluten free bread.
To make stuffing (dressing?), I’ve used every type of bread, from the squishiest to the most crusty. I’ve made it with lean breads and enriched breads. Cornbread, too.
I have finally decided that my favorite gluten free bread for stuffing is the Japanese Milk Bread from page 59 of GFOAS Bakes Bread(try the blog recipe, too—I bet it works fine). It’s slightly enriched (an egg, some butter, milk instead of water) so it’s nice and airy inside, and also has a thick, bakery-style crust, but it’s not as rich as, say, brioche.
And it holds up beautifully to being cubed, tossed with flavored butter and toasted. These days, I don’t bother leaving bread cubes out to go stale. I get much MUCH better results by cubing a fresh loaf of bread, then tossing it with melted butter mixed with our powdered gluten free vegetable bouillon, and toasting it at 350°F for about 20 minutes.
I find that it flavors the bread just enough, and prepares it to absorb the eggs and stock without becoming soggy. Oh you just have to try it. I honestly could just eat the cubed bread right out of the oven as a delicious appetizer. With cheese fondue. Oooooooohhhhh….
Aside from a few basic guidelines and ratios, though, what makes for the very best gluten free stuffing for Thanksgiving (or any day) is just such a matter of personal taste. So this is your basic, truly classic recipe, but at the end of the instructions are a few suggested variations.
If your family has a favorite way to flavor your stuffing this time of year, tell us all about it in the comments. I bet it’s delicious! Promise me you’ll at least consider trying my bread and my suggested method of toasting it, though, okay?
4 eggs (240 g, weighed out of shells) at room temperature, beaten
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set them aside. Grease well a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish and set it aside.
Toast the bread cubes. In a large bowl place the bread cubes. In a separate, small bowl, place the melted butter and powdered bouillon, and mix to combine. Pour the butter mixture over the bread cubes and mix gently to coat the bread cubes without crushing the bread. Divide the bread cube mixture between the two prepared baking sheets and shake into an even layer on each baking sheet. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake until lightly golden brown all over and firm to the touch (about 20 minutes), stirring gently once during baking. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
While the bread is cooling, cook the aromatics. In a medium-size, heavy-bottom saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and celery are fork-tender (about 10 minutes). Uncover the pan and remove it from the heat. Add the stock, sage and thyme, and mix to combine well. Allow the mixture to cool until no longer hot to the touch.
Assemble and bake. Place the cooled toasted bread cubes in a large bowl, add the eggs and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and toss to coat. Add the stock mixture, and mix to combine. Transfer the mixture carefully to the prepared 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish, and press gently into an even layer. Place the baking dish in the center of the preheated oven, and reduce the heat to 325°F. Bake until the eggs are set (about 20 minutes). Increase the temperature to 350°F and continue to bake until golden brown all over (another 5 to 10 minutes). Serve warm.
Cranberry-Apple Stuffing: When cooking onions and celery, add 2 peeled, cored and diced apples, and 1 cup dried cranberries to the aromatics when you add the stock.
Sausage-and-Leek Stuffing: When cooking the aromatics, first cook 1 1/2 cups crumbled bulk sausage until no longer pink. Remove the cook sausage and set it aside, leaving behind the grease. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, and cook the aromatics, replacing the sliced onions with 1 cup chopped leeks.
Tex-Mex Cornbread Stuffing: Replace the Japanese Milk Bread cubes with cubed Gluten Free Skillet Cornbread. To aromatics, add 1 diced japaleño pepper, ribs and seeds removed and 1 seeded red bell pepper. After you add the stock, add 1 cup frozen corn kernels.