Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}

Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}This year will be an unusual Thanksgiving for my family. Not only will all of us be together over the holiday, but we’re also going to be home in Fort Worth and we’re going to make the big meal ourselves. I honestly can’t remember the last time we did all that–I think I was eleven!

Since we’ll be cooking in my mom’s kitchen, she’s the lady in charge. So far, she’s requested a Butterscotch Cream Pie. Other than that, nothing’s set in stone.* None of us are particularly fond of turkey, so we’re not married to the traditional meal.

Note: I mean, there will be Artichoke Dip. It’s not the holidays without Artichoke Dip.

Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}Now, I can live without the traditional sweet potatoes, the cranberry sauce, and even the rolls. I generally don’t care for gravy, so that’s no biggie. But stuffing…well, it’s my lone non-negotiable side dish. 

I’ve already got a great stuffing recipe in the archives–the base is homemade cream biscuits! I love that recipe, but I’m going in a different direction this year. My little sister has cut gluten out of her diet over the past several months, so this year, I’m using my accidentally-gluten-free Southern-Style Cornbread as the base, and doctoring it up with apples and fennel. So freaking good, y’all.

Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}Cornbread Stuffing with Apple & Fennel might be my new favorite Thanksgiving side. The southern cornbread makes for a super savory base, but the pops of sweetness from the apples and fennel keep it interesting. Adding to the flavor are all the aromatics (celery, onion, garlic) and herbs (parsley, sage, thyme) you’d expect in a stuffing, plus some vegetable stock. Oh, and butter–a whole stick. It’s holiday food, not everyday food.

Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}My grandmother (the one with the biscuits and Lemon Meringue Pie) made a cornbread dressing that was so dense and moist that it could be sliced into squares. (It also had hard-boiled eggs in it. 😬😫😑) This recipe has very little in common with hers. While it’s definitely moist and buttery, this stuffing cannot be sliced and requires a serving spoon. 

Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}With Thanksgiving just fifteen days away, I can’t wait to share this with my family. The cornbread base gives a nod to our Texan heritage, the apples and fennel are seasonal and delicious, and it’s all gluten-free, so everyone can enjoy it. Oh, and it can’t be sliced and stacked like a pyramid on a serving dish, so we’ve got something for which to be thankful.Cornbread Stuffing with Apples & Fennel {Gluten-Free}

Cornbread Stuffing with Apple & Fennel {Gluten-Free}
makes 8 servings

Southern-Style Cornbread:
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 large egg, room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon bacon fat (or neutral-flavored oil)

Preheat oven to 425F.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Combine buttermilk and egg in a measuring cup. Whisk together with a fork. Fold into dry ingredients. Fold in melted butter.

Heat an 8- or 9-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat for at least 3 minutes. Add bacon fat and coat. Add cornbread batter. Cook for one minute before transferring to the oven. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely in the pan on a rack.

For the stuffing:
1 recipe Southern-Style Cornbread, cut into cubes, stale
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1 medium white onion, small diced
2-3 stalks celery, small diced
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and small diced
2 large baking apples, peeled and small diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2-2 1/2 cups vegetable broth, divided
1/2-3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt 
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Remove cornbread from the pan and slice into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread cubes onto a dry sheet pan and let sit uncovered overnight.

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9×13-inch casserole. Set aside.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery, fennel, apples, and garlic, and cook for about 10 minutes or until soft. Add sage, thyme, and parsley and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Pour in 1 cup of vegetable broth and turn the heat up to medium high. Once liquid comes to a simmer, remove pan from heat.

Transfer dry cornbread cubes to a large mixing bowl. Pour in the vegetable mixture and mix until combined. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Melt 4 tablespoons butter and add to the stuffing. Fold in an additional 1-1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, depending on your taste.

Cover pan with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Cornbread Stuffing with Apple & Fennel {Gluten-Free}

Chorizo Refried Beans & Tex-Mex Rice

Chorizo Refried Beans & Tex-Mex RiceNew York City is an amazing place to live. Beyond the incredible architecture, the millions of bright and driven people, and the general “OMG I live here” of it all, there’s the fact that you can get a bagel with cream cheese a literally any hour. I know you’re jealous.

As I’ve lamented many times though, New York is lacking in one area: there is not one true Tex-Mex restaurant that is worth a damn. Not one. Sure, you can get decent tacos all over the city and I am particularly fond of the mushroom enchiladas at Alma, but those alone simply won’t cut it. And don’t even get me started on the salsa situation.

Chorizo Refried Beans & Tex-Mex RiceI’ve already put a few salsa recipes on here, along with guacamole, Enchiladas Suizas, and this week’s Caramelized Mushroom Tostada recipe, but my recipe index has been lacking in terms of Tex-Mex sides…until today.

Chorizo Refried Beans & Tex-Mex RiceThese Chorizo Refried Beans & Tex-Mex Rice are staples of mine. They’re spectacular by themselves or with a side salad, but they really sing when they’re next to an enchilada or two. The recipes are delightfully easy and come together in about 40 minutes total. I know that making sides can be less than appealing after you’ve already put together a main course, but when they taste this much like home, they’re worth the effort.Chorizo Refried Beans & Tex-Mex Rice

Chorizo Refried Beans
makes 4-6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces raw chorizo, removed from casings
1 large white onion, diced small
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 15 ounce cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/3 cup chicken stock
Kosher or sea salt to taste, optional
1-2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Warm olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown chorizo, breaking it up with a spatula or wooden spoon. Remove meat to a paper towel-lined plate, reserving fat. Set aside.

Reduce heat to medium. Sauté onion until translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in beans and cumin. Add chicken stock and return heat to medium-high heat. Let stock simmer 5-7 minutes, until slightly reduced. Remove pan from heat. Use a potato masher or two forks to mash ingredients together. Fold in browned chorizo.

Remove beans to a serving dish and top with shredded cheese. Serve immediately. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days.

Tex-Mex Rice
recipe from Homesick Texan
makes 4-6 servings

1 cup long-grain white rice
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small white onion, diced small
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
juice of 1/2 lime

Place rice, chicken stock, and butter in a small pot (one that has a lid). Bring uncovered pot to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Let cook 15-20 minutes. Remove pot from heat. Let sit 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork.

In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté onion until translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and salt. Remove pan from heat. Stir in cooked rice until everything is evenly coated. Fold in chopped cilantro and lime juice.

Serve rice immediately. Leftover rice will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days.

Sausage & Mushroom Biscuit Stuffing

Sausage & Mushroom Biscuit StuffingThanksgiving, y’all. It’s happening in eight days. Are you ready? I know I am.

See, aside from taking a bus to Boston, there’s nothing I need to do. My parents are coming up to spend the holiday with my little sister and me, and we’ll be having the traditional turkey dinner at a restaurant in Brookline, Massachusetts. No muss, no fuss. All we need to do is dress nicely and show up. It’s pretty great, especially if the idea of making a huge dinner doesn’t appeal to you. But, as you may have gathered by my having a food blog, the marathon cooking very much appeals to me.

Sausage & Mushroom Biscuit StuffingFor years I’ve said that my idea of the perfect day is preparing a Thanksgiving dinner all by myself. I know–I’m insane. Hear me out though. I have been obsessively reading recipes for years and have catalogued an extensive collection of Thanksgiving recipes. Given the chance to host Thanksgiving, I know every detail from how I’d serve Artichoke Dip as an appetizer to how I’d dry brine the turkey to which of my mother’s sweet potato recipes I’d use and how many pies I’d make. And of course, I know what kind of stuffing I’d serve–one made with biscuits and studded with sausage and mushrooms. Since it doesn’t appear I’ll be preparing any large turkey dinners anytime soon, I went ahead and tried my ideal stuffing recipe on a rainy Tuesday afternoon. After eating four servings over the course of the day, I can safely say that the Sausage & Mushroom Biscuit Stuffing I’d been imagining for years is just as good as I had hoped. Crispy on top, moist in the middle, and made out of the perfect food (biscuits, duh), this is the stuffing of my dreams.

Sausage & Mushroom Biscuit StuffingSausage & Mushroom Biscuit Stuffing starts with a batch of cream biscuits. These biscuits require less work than their buttermilk-based counterparts and are just as delicious. They’re great with butter and jam or made into little sandwiches, but here they’re cut into small pieces after baking and left at room temperature until stale (12-48 hours). If you’re working on a tight deadline, I’ve written a shortcut for this step into the recipe.

Once the biscuit pieces are dried out, the stuffing assembly can begin. Brown some sausage. I like breakfast sausage because the sage flavor goes so well with other parts of the Thanksgiving meal, but use whichever variety you like.

Sausage & Mushroom Biscuit StuffingSauté some diced mushrooms, followed by onion and celery. Add the biscuits, sausage, and vegetables to a large mixing bowl. Toss in some herbs–parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (just as Simon & Garfunkel intended). Throw in a little salt and pepper and moisten everything with melted butter and chicken stock.

Pile it into a casserole dish (or your trusty cast iron skillet) and drizzle it with a bit more stock. Lay parchment and foil over the top to keep the stuffing moist, and bake for half an hour. Then remove the foil and parchment and bake for fifteen more minutes, just long enough for the top to get brown and crispy.

This stuffing, y’all. It’s freaking delicious. Deeply savory with tons of meaty sausage, earthy mushrooms, aromatics, herbs, and butter (always butter), it’ll be perfect alongside your turkey. The top is brown and crisp-crunchy, while the middle stays soft and moist. Oh my lord, is this good. Try it, and you will be wondering why we save this for one or two days per year. I know I am.Sausage & Mushroom Biscuit Stuffing

Sausage & Mushroom Biscuit Stuffing
biscuit recipe from Dinner with Julie
makes about 8-10 servings

Cream Biscuits:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 cups heavy cream

Stuffing:
1 recipe cream biscuits (or other good biscuits), cut into 1-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb breakfast sausage, removed from casings
6 tablespoons butter, divided
8 ounces cremini or other mushrooms, diced
2 cups diced white onion (about one large onion)
2 cups diced celery (about 6-8 stalks)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1/2-1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock, divided (I like Better than Bouillon)

Make the biscuits. Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir in heavy cream. Knead a few times to incorporate any extra dry ingredients. Press biscuit dough into prepared pan and score with a sharp chef’s knife (I usually score 20 rectangular biscuits). Bake 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through and starting to turn golden. Let cool in the pan on a rack until the biscuits reach room temperature.

Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the biscuits into 1-inch pieces. Place pieces in one layer on a baking sheet and leave uncovered for 12-48 hours, until stale. Alternatively, you may dry out the biscuit pieces by toasting them in a 350F oven for 30 minutes.

Make the stuffing. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a large casserole or other ovenproof pan. Set aside.

Place stale biscuit pieces in a large mixing bowl.

Place olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until browned. Remove sausage to the mixing bowl that contains the biscuits.

Discard all but 1 tablespoon of sausage fat from the pan, and return to the heat. Add 2 tablespoons butter and melt. Sauté mushrooms 7-10 minutes, until cooked but not browned. Add them to the sausage and biscuit pieces.

Return pan to the heat and reduce heat to medium. Add celery and onion and sauté until translucent but not brown, about 10 minutes.

Add vegetables to the large mixing bowl, along with thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Toss all ingredients together. Pour in 2 cups of chicken stock and continue stirring until everything is moistened (there may be a bit of excess liquid–this is fine). Taste for salt and add 1/2 teaspoon more, if desired.

Press mixture into prepared casserole dish. Drizzle with an additional 1 cup chicken stock. Cover with a layer of parchment, followed by a layer of foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove parchment and foil. Bake an additional 15 minutes until browned and crispy. Serve immediately.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days.

Olive Oil Marinated Broccoli

 Let’s take a sugar break. It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on the real food side of things, and I’ve honestly overdone it with all the treats lately. But who can blame me? There were Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Oreo Buttercream to be had! I don’t care to admit how many I ate in three days…

It was seven. I ate seven cupcakes in three days 😁

So, let’s eat some broccoli. Really good, crunchy broccoli coated in a salty, spicy, garlicky marinade. 

This recipe is a riff on a side dish that an old boyfriend’s dad used to make all the time. We had dinner with his parents every Sunday, and while everything they served was good (I still dream about the arroz con pollo), the marinated broccoli was always my favorite. And while that boyfriend didn’t last, my obsession with this side dish has continued for years.

Yes, I get psyched up over vegetables. His dad also made the best peach pie I’ve ever had, but that’s a story for another day. 

 This broccoli is super easy and so good it’s ridiculous. There’s hardly any cooking involved. All you have to do is warm up some olive oil with garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes, and then pour it over a ton of broccoli florets. Toss it all together, cover it in plastic wrap, and let it sit for 2-4 hours at room temperature. That’s it–barely even a recipe. The broccoli softens just slightly and its raw bitterness fades as it soaks in all the salty, spicy goodness from the marinade. 

This recipe makes a lot. Like 8-10 servings a lot. But that means your vegetable side is done for at least two days, depending on how many you are feeding. Also, like soup and stew, the longer this sits, the better it will be. It’s great on day one, but the leftovers are *amazing.* The broccoli pictured only sat for two hours, and it was good, but when I went back for more later that night it was truly fantastic. 

Marinated broccoli is great with chicken, pork, fish, beef, tofu, mac and cheese…it literally goes well with any main you can imagine. I’ve been known to eat a giant pile of it with a hunk of bread and some cheese and call it dinner.

This is the kind of side dish that will make you want to eat your vegetables. I made some for my nine year-old friend last week and she went back for seconds. Of broccoli. Her main dish that night was pizza, so that’s practically a miracle.

Olive Oil Marinated Broccoli is a great side for weeknight dinners, and is great in packed lunches. I’ve served it at casual dinner parties and am planning to bring it to picnics in Prospect Park all summer long! Add this to your list of easy side dishes–it’ll be a favorite in no time! 

 Olive Oil Marinated Broccoli
makes 8-10 servings*

8 cups broccoli florets (about 5-6 crowns), raw*
2 cups extra virgin olive oil*
10 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and sliced in half
1-1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt, or to taste
1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Place broccoli florets in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Place olive oil, garlic, salt, and crushed red pepper flakes in a small pot. Heat over medium-high heat just until the oil starts to bubble and the garlic begins to sizzle. Remove pot from heat. Pour oil mixture over the broccoli, using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to scrape any remaining spices from the bottom of the pot into the bowl. Use a large spoon to coat the broccoli in the oil mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit 2-8 hours at room temperature, tossing occasionally.

Use a slotted spoon to serve. Broccoli is best served at room temperature.

Cover and refrigerate leftovers in marinade for up to four days, bringing them back to room temperature before serving.

Notes:

1. This recipe halves easily, should you like to make a smaller amount.

2. If you aren’t into mostly-raw broccoli, you may blanch it in boiling water for one minute, and then shock it in ice water to stop the cooking. Proceed with marinating as written.

3. Yes, 2 cups is a lot of olive oil, but it really does require this much. Serving this broccoli with a slotted spoon helps to leave a lot of it behind.