Taking The Stuffing Out Of Thanksgiving

I’ve been doing Thanksgiving away from home for 10 years. And at almost every one, I’ve claimed rights to the stuffing. I wanted to make it. I needed to make it.

It was a food I loved but only ate once a year. So as a vegetarian there was no way I’d let my pro-meat friends start messing around with chicken stock or sausage or worse, stuff it up some bird’s cavity.

“Erin’s stuffing” was always a riff on a Martha Stewart recipe involving Vermouth, walnuts and copious amounts of butter. It was traditional, vegetarian, and you couldn’t really mess it up. The thyme, sage, rosemary and parsley formed a quadruple threat that neutralized anything else you’d try to flavor it with.

This year the idea of a plate of soggy bread sounded more troublesome than tasty. I assumed I could put the Quadruple Herb Bomb on some overcooked veggie to recreate the dish, but imagined myself being the bearer of a brown-tasting casserole-thing that only I could love. No, I would not suffer cringey compliments like “This tastes almost like something I’d like to be eating!”

But I had to try. If it sucked, I would just pretend it never happened and bring my America’s Test Kitchen-approved squash instead.

 

Paleo Cauliflower Stuffing

This recipe from Mark’s Daily Apple had an intriguingly reasonable sub for the bread (wild rice = normal stuffing sub; cauliflower = paleo sub for rice, therefore…)

Also he calls to bake this dish for 90 minutes. Try that with a regular bread stuffing and you’d be fanning the smoke alarm with a dish towel. But in my mind that unusual direction meant he Knew Secrets.

What I Changed

I didn’t have everything at hand even after a run to the grocery store, so made a couple subs:

  •  walnuts for hazelnuts
  • sage, rosemary for parsley
  • chicken broth for lemon
  • shallot for leek

What I Added

  • browned sausage
  • garlic (added compulsively to appease the Italian in me)

You do have to take Mr. Mark seriously about stirring frequently so things don’t stick or char. Yet the oven babysitting was also a taste test opportunity —  does the added time really change things?

Up until the last 15 minutes of cook-time I would’ve said, “Eh.” But then something magic happened and it went from “I’d eat that” to “I’ll have seconds.” I ended up cooking it for about 100 minutes total and that extra 10 added even more richness.

I reheated it quickly before serving at Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone seemed to enjoy the taste, or at least appreciate how the unstuffing left more room for mashed potatoes and gravy.