Thanksgiving is actually my very favorite holiday. It is the perfect balance of family, food, and gratitude. If you have access to a computer…you likely have much to be thankful for. Be sure to remember your local food bank this time of year and give as generously as you are able.
For me there are certain must haves for the dinner table that include Turkey (make mine brined please), mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, and a dinner roll of some sort off to the side (gluten free of course).
Those are the essentials in my opinion…now we typically also have sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, mac and cheese, and at least two different stuffings (corn bread and white bread — Southerners and Northerners are welcome) on the table as well. However if forced to be absolutely minimal I could live happily with the aforementioned short list. Notice that stuffing is not on my short list. I must confess that I am not stuffing’s biggest fan…I eat it…but I could live without it. However since I am guessing that I might be in the minority, I am going to give you a leg up with hints and techniques for transforming your favorite stuffing recipe into a gluten free version for the holidays.
I hesitate to wade in on the stuffing debate. I know that all the various kinds have their enthusiastic proponents. Bread versus cornbread versus rice versus potato versus pumpkin stuffing and all the other minor variations that abound. I will focus these tips on those recipes that call for bread…many of the other versions such as cornbread or rice stuffing are already gluten free or easily convert to gluten free with minor tweaks.
Here are the guidelines:
- When using gluten free breads cut the bread smaller than you would normally. Gluten free breads tend to be denser than typical wheat breads so you will need the extra surface area gained by chopping or crumbling the bread finely to achieve the correct finished texture.
- Be ready to add more stock/broth to moisten than your recipe calls for with gluten bread (if necessary).
- Use stale, dry bread. For a fresh loaf, bake your sliced bread in a low oven (200°) until dry so that it will thirstily soak up the liquid components of your recipe.
- Consider changing the proportion of ingredients to lean more on the vegetable components of the dish. For example, add more onions, celery, carrots, etc. than the recipe originally calls for. Again working toward keeping the final texture moist and delicious.
- Consider making the stuffing the day before and allowing it to soak or rest in the refrigerator overnight. Gluten free flours can often be “harder” than wheat and need extra time to take on moisture. Added benefit is less prep work on the day of.
- Choose your bread well…Ensure that you use a bread that you and your family enjoy in its “natural” state. You might consider Udi’s bread if you have access locally or online (we love the multigrain variety).
- Make careful notes of your changes/tweeks! Trust me you will not remember a year from now or even a month from now. Make notes on what went well and suggestions for the next time you make the stuffing. Remember, you are crafting a legacy recipe that will eventually be a fail safe foundation for future holidays.
- Be fearless. Even if you do not consider yourself completely comfortable with changing a family recipe, consider the possible benefits of having a beloved favorite you and your family can enjoy without gluten.
Here are some helpful links to gluten free stuffing recipe versions: