Stuffing is the cornerstone of our household Thanksgiving meal and people have strong opinions about it. A colleague of mine (won’t disclose the name to protect the “not so innocent”) last week told me that last year his Thanksgiving last year was basically ruined because someone put giblets in the stuffing without trimming or mincing them and for him — the stuffing was ruined and with it — his Thanksgiving meal! You may want to keep this in mind when preparing stuffing and although it is difficult to make stuffing that makes everyone happy keeping in mind the gluten-free and the vegetarians. This recipe for Pumpkin cornbread comes pretty close as it is flavorful, light, gluten-free, and vegetarian–although the carnivores at your table will surely enjoy it as well, as they can toss some killer turkey gravy on it and call it a day!
Pumpkin cornbread, cubed and toasted*
1 cup of celery, finely minced
1 cup of carrots, rough chopped
1/2 cup roasted, shelled chestnuts, chopped
1//2 cup of parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves
1 cup of local mushrooms
1/2. cup of leeks, white part, cleaned and thinly sliced
3 cups of garden vegetable stock
1 tablespoon of vegetarian seasoning like Spike
2 eggs, beaten
5 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
Local sea salt
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and butter a casserole dish. Beat two eggs together with one tablespoon of milk, and set aside.
Saute all vegetables in about 2½ tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, until slightly browned, then add a dash of salt to taste. In separate saucepan, saute the chestnuts and shallots in another 2½ tablespoons olive oil, until both are golden.
In large bowl, combine croutons, all cooked ingredients including the chestnut/shallot mixture, eggs and oil, then gradually add stock until the mixture becomes moist, like a bread pudding mixture. You must taste your stuffing before baking it since that is when you can fix it. Once it is baked, there is not much you can do. Lastly, pour into the casserole dish and bake for up to 40 minutes or until it has risen and the top is golden brown. Allow to rest for at least 15 minutes prior to serving.
*To toast the cornbread into croutons, preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Cube cornbread in 1/2-inch cubes, then spread evenly on a baking sheet and place on a rack in the middle of the oven. Bake until the cornbread is lightly toasted and leave out to. dry overnight wthout covering.