How is it already Thanksgiving?! It always sneaks up on us doesn’t it? Trust me, I’m just as confused and stressed as you are. However, lucky for you, I’m here to ease your holiday anxiety. Cooking this time of year is more exerting than ever, especially with everybody hopping on their health journeys and adopting new diets every week. How many diets are there now? Lol. Anyways, regardless of the “why” people are on these health journeys, it’s nice to have foods everyone can enjoy. This stuffing recipe is fairly versatile and, depending on the ingredients you chose, can cater to dietary restrictions of any kind while still tasting like your traditional Thanksgiving stuffing (possibly even better).
Okay, let’s go over what makes stuffing stuffing and its key ingredients.
I would go as far to argue that there are four major components to achieving a moist (yeah you read me, MOIST), flavorful stuffing: herbs, mirepoix, stale bread, and a dry white wine.
Herbs are what will fill your house with that nostagic aroma that reminds everybody it’s Thanksgiving. Thankfully, the flavors and spices in Thanksgiving dishes are fairly constant in which if your making any other side dish, these herbs will already be on your grocery list; these include thyme, rosemary, and sage. Stuffing is sage-forward as in there’s a lot of sage. Using fresh herbs will give you more flavor, however, fresh sage is extremely pungent and can cause your dish to go south pretty quickly if you use too much. So, to avoid that, I reccomend using ground sage (I used ground sage in this recipe).
Carrots, onion, celery ( also known as Mirepoix in French cooking)
Mirepoix is a mix of onion, carrots, and celery and is considered the flavor base in French cooking. This mix of vegetables has a unique ratio to optimize flavor; 2 parts diced onion, 1 part diced carrots, and 1 part diced celery. As you would assume, this combination of chopped veggies will be the basis of flavor in our stuffing. Think of it as if these veggies allow flavors build onto one another. Just like in making a soup, these veggies absorb salt, herbs used, chicken stock, and so on. They’re and flavor the entire soup. This veggie medley contributes “layer 1” of flavors into the dish. Let the herbs and other spices be layer 2, the wine layer 3, and so on.
Yes, STALE bread. The first step to making stuffing is actually making croutons. Stale bread is dry, has less moisture than fresh bread and ultimately will result in very crunchy and crispy croutons. Any savory bread works for this; gluten-free, vegan, whole-wheat, multigrain, use whatever you have!
A cheap dry white wine is what will bring all the flavors together in a beautiful harmony. I find a sauvignon blanc is the best for this dish. Now, don’t spend a pretty penny on this wine, make sure under $10. You’ll see in the recipe, but we’ll use wine to deglaze our pan. Whenever you cook something whether its chicken or veggies, there’ll be little brown bits tuck to the pan. This may sound gross to some, but these brown bit so to call it, are legitimate gold in cooking. Pouring in wine into the pan will remove the brown bits and incorporate that flavor into the rest of the dish. In addition to this, cooking with wine not only makes you feel cool, but it also adds some sophistication to a dishes flavor profile. Just do it. SO much flavor!
***this recipe serves 4 people, so double or triple to your needs.
**This recipe calls for butter but cater to your own needs, vegan butter works great
- olive oil (3 tablespoons)
- kosher salt
- thyme (1 tsp)
- rosemary (2 tsp)
- ground sage (1 tbsp)
- garlic powder (2 tsp)
- cumin (1/2 tsp)
- corriander (1/2 tsp)
- fresh garlic (2 cloves)
- chicken or veggie stock (1 cup)
- cheap bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (1/3 cup)
- 12oz loaf of bread
- celery (2 stocks)
- long carrots (2)
- medium/large white onion
- butter (4 tbsp)
- fresh parsely (1 tablespoons for topping)
Lets get started!
First, we’re going to make croutons out of our bread.
FOR THE CROUTONS:
- 3 tbsps olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp thyme
- 2 tsp rosemary
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp coriander
*Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Roughly chop bread into cubes ( about 1/2in by 1/2in). Then in a large bowl, coat the cubes in olive oil, make sure they’re coated evenly adn then add ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, ½ tsp cumin, ½ tsp coriander, 2 tsp rosemary, 1 tsp thyme, and mix (using your hands works best, make sure theyre clean!). Then spread out on a baking sheet and pop in 375 degree oven and let crisp up for 10-12 minutes, then raise heat to 400 for another 5 minutes to ensure the bread crisps up (keep an eye on it though you dont want your bread to burn!).
- 2 garlic cloves (peeled)
- 2 stocks celery
- 2 large carrots (the long ones)
- 1 medium/large white onion
- 1/3 cup inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc (Charles Shaw works great)
- 2 tsp ground sage
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup chicken stock (veggie stock works too)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
In the meantime, peel and smash 2 garlic cloves, chop 2 stocks celery (about 1/2 cup), 2 medium carrots (about 1/2 cup), and half of a medium large white onion (about 1 cup). Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large sauce pan, add chopped veggies, garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, and add two large sprigs of thyme( or 2 tsp dried thyme). Cook on medium- high heat until onions are slightly translucent. Once translucent, add 1 tbsp ground sage and stir. Once the sage is aromatic (takes 10-30 seconds) add ⅓ cup of a dry white wine and let simmer at medium heat. Once the wine cooks off (you’ll know when it no longer smells like alcohol) add in 2 tablespoons of butter, let melt and add more sage, 1 tsp. Poor in one cup of chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Once at a simmer, turn off heat and taste, add salt if needed (add salt if your stock is low sodium). Pour in your toasted bread (add the crumbs too, everything!) and stir the mixture so the bread coasts evenly. Lastly add 2 tbsp of butter and stir until melted completely. Poor into oven-safe serving dish, cover with tinfoil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. After 30 min, take off tinfoil, raise head to 400 and cook for 8ish minutes until the top is crispy and golden or broil for 5 minutes ( just don;t burnt it!). Chop small handful of fresh parsely and use as a garnish. Serve and enjoy with your loved ones 🙂