Getting this one in right under the wire. As I type this, Thanksgiving is literally one week away. There are sooooo many other things I could be doing to get ready, but I really want to share this recipe with you to help you plan your gluten-free Thanksgiving. Also, between you and me, although not the most photogenic Thanksgiving dish, stuffing might just be the best part about Thanksgiving. Shhh... don't tell the turkey.
This stuffing is pretty basic. It's exactly the kind of stuffing I like. I'm just not a fan of nuts or fruit in my stuffing. I also MUCH prefer stuffing that is not cooked in the bird. I like that crispy top you can only get when the stuffing is baked in the oven. But, if you're one of those fancy stuffing people, you can definitely bedazzle this stuffing however you like. Add celery, hazlenuts, apple, you name it! Also, if you can get your hands on homemade turkey stock or chicken stock it will really add something. But, if you can't, it's still deeeelicious with boxed chicken stock. Just use a no salt added stock. Overall though, this recipe is flexible. Use it as is or as a base for creating your new gluten-free Thanksgiving masterpiece.
Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Stuffing, serves 8
3/4 cup unsalted butter
10 cups of cubed gluten-free white bread, approximately 2.5 small loaves of the Udi's brand white gluten-free bread works great. (You don't need to go crazy on fancy gluten-free bread. You want basic good white bread. It is meant to give flavor, instead you want it to suck up all the other good flavors.)
3 TBSBs olive oil
12- 18 oz gluten-free sausage, casings removed (go heavy on sausage if you like it, although keep in mind that the sausage adds salt to the stuffing flavor.... so more sausage may mean less added salt later)
2 onions, chopped not too fine
1 fennel bulb, chopped
2 TBSPs fresh sage, chopped
2 large eggs
2.5 cups (give or take) gluten-free chicken or turkey stock
The first step of this recipe should actually be done a few days before you're going to bake up your stuffing. For example, if you're making your stuffing Wednesday night, take some time on Monday or even Sunday night to dry out your bread. Preheat your oven to 275 and arrange oven racks in top and bottom third of your oven. Cut bread into 3/4"- 1" squares and spread evenly across baking sheets. Bake for 25 minutes, stir squares, rotate pans, and bake for another 20- 25 minutes until bread is hard. The bread can start to turn golden, but don't let it start to burn. Remove from oven, let cool and seal bread cubes in ziplock bags until you're ready to make the stuffing.
When you're ready to make the stuffing, preheat the oven to 350. In a large frying pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and fry sausage, breaking into smallish bits, until sausage is no longer pink and is lightly browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to separate plate. Keeping heat at medium-high, add onion, fennel, and sage to the pan and cook approx. 7-9 minutes until onion is lightly browned. Scrape vegetable mix into the sausage plate. Deglaze your pan with about 1/2 cup chicken or turkey stock, scraping up the delicious bits of sausage and onion that might remain. When the stock is nearly cooked down, add 1/2 cup butter to the pan and cook until melted.
Meanwhile, as your butter is melting, whisk together 2 eggs and 2 cups of chicken/turkey stock in a medium-sized bowl. Once your butter is melted, it is stuffing assembly go time!
Grab your biggest bowl or pot. Add bread cubes, sausage, and veggies to the bowl. Stir gently while drizzling melted butter into the bowl. Slowly pour egg & stock mixture over bread, always stirring gently. You don't want to break your nice crispy cubes too much. You need them square to soak up all the stock. If you feel like your bread isn't wet enough, add additional stock 1/4 cup at a time.
Generously butter your 3 quart baking dish and pour stuffing into dish. Dot top with additional dabs of butter and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake covered for 30-35 minutes. If you want to get technical, check the internal temperature of the stuffing after 30 minutes. If it is 150 degrees, crank the oven up to 450 and bake stuffing uncovered until it is brown and crispy, approximately another 20-25 minutes. (Note, you absolutely do not have to take your stuffing's temperature after 30 minutes.... some people just really like their Thermapens. Nothing wrong with that.)
Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Or, if you're making this the night before. Let stuffing cool completely, then cover and refrigerate until you're ready to reheat. Throw it in there while the turkey's resting or while you're baking up another side. Rewarm covered, but be sure to remove the foil towards to the end to re-crisp it all up.