I’m gearing up for Thanksgiving. I bet you are, too. I like tweaking recipes, but there are some recipes I don’t mess with. I should rephrase that: I am not allowed to change certain treasured family recipes, like my cornbread stuffing. Both of my children (but especially my daughter, Amy), are adamant that the meal must stay pretty much the same as it was when they were kids. Frankly, the only reason I’m changing my stuffing recipe is that I’ve changed. I am no longer eating wheat, and that means I had to find an alternative to my beloved cornbread stuffing. I’ll still make the traditional bread and cornbread stuffing for the family, but alongside, I’ll make this conversion to gluten-free for me.
The recipe starts with a gluten-free cornbread. I use an inexpensive gluten-free all-purpose baking flour that I get in the bulk foods section at WinCo.
1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour blend
1 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon coconut flour
1/3 cup sugar (I use organic coconut palm–you can use whatever you like)
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup safflower oil
1/3 cup milk
Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients, mix into dry. Grease an 8-inch cast iron skillet. Pour batter into skillet and bake for 20-25 min. at 425 degrees. (You may also bake the batter in a greased, 8 or 9 inch square pan—bake 20 min.—or in 12 greased muffin cups, fill half-full, bake 15 min.) Remove and cool five minutes, remove cornbread from skillet by inverting over a plate.
Using a cast iron skillet to bake cornbread is a tradition in my family. The advantage is that you get a really crispy crust on the bottom and sides, and this is delicious when you’re eating the cornbread as is (or with apple butter or honey, two of my favorites), as well as working beautifully in the stuffing. That brown, crisp crust gives the stuffing more texture and flavor. So if you have an iron skillet, grease it up and bake with it.
Another tradition in my family is to have beans and cornbread the night before a big feast day. This works out nicely because I have leftover cornbread for the stuffing, as long as I make enough (or don’t let anybody have seconds)!
Gluten-free Cornbread Stuffing (Serves 4-6)
2 cups gluten free bread (Elana’s Pantry Paleo Bread) cut in ½ in. cubes and dried in oven on low heat
2 cups gluten free cornbread, crumbled
3/4 cup butter
1 medium onion, chopped
4 medium stalks celery, chopped
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning OR 1 ½ teaspoons dried, crumbled sage, ½ teaspoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1-2 cups chicken stock
Melt butter in saucepan, add chopped onion and celery, cook until tender. Mix bread cubes and cornbread cubes in large bowl. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and herbs, mix. Mix butter and vegetables into breads, folding carefully to keep cubes from losing their shape. Carefully fold eggs into bread mixture. Add enough chicken stock to moisten stuffing mixture. Don’t let the mixture turn into a paste. Mix gently to keep bread cubes intact.
The stuffing may be inserted into the cavity of a chicken or turkey or baked in a greased, uncovered casserole dish alongside the bird at 325-350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until top is browned and crusty. (Yeah, I know. Everybody’s scared of cooking stuffing inside the turkey. All I can say is I’ve been doing it almost 50 years, and nobody has ever gotten sick. But follow your own inclinations on this one.)
I’ve used this recipe for years with wheat-based bread cubes and cornbread made from half wheat flour and half cornmeal. Here’s a picture of last year’s Thanksgiving turkey with the same stuffing made with wheat bread cubes and traditional cornbread.
I apologize that there are no pictures of the gluten-free stuffing, but honestly, it looks just like what’s in the picture above. Unfortunately, I got distracted by football and didn’t get any pictures while I was making the gluten-free stuffing. Our team lost–another distraction–and as consolation, we ate up the test batch (stuffed into a pair of Cornish game hens) before I could get pictures of it. Maybe that’s the best testimonial of all.
I’m so happy that I don’t have to give up my treasured cornbread stuffing this year because I’m no longer eating wheat. I can make the kids happy and satisfy myself at the same time. Dennis doesn’t care either way; he’s like Mikey. He’ll eat anything.