… Is it Gluten-free Stuffing or Dressing?
The debate is long lived. Some say stuffing is different from dressing, some argue they’re the same thing. I don’t really think about it much and love them both, so for the purpose of this recipe intro I’ll be using the terms interchangeably. If you have strong opinions, feel free to share them in the comments below. 😀 Now on to the good stuff …
I’ve always baked my stuffing inside the turkey, with any extra being baked in a dish. I like it both ways, but found that many of my guests had strong opinions on which was their personal preference.
This year I decided to take a different approach. I prepared my stuffing in much the same way, but instead of placing the stuffing into the bird (because you need to be so careful that the stuffing and interior portion of the turkey reach a safe cooking/eating temperature), I figured out a way to have moist stuffing or a crispier, baked dressing texture. I baked my mixture of croutons, dried and fresh fruits, herbs, spices, and nuts in individual portions in muffin tins. Perfect!
This approach involves much less work. No lining the turkey cavity with cheesecloth and stuffing your dressing into it, making sure it’s all tucked and won’t spill out, but isn’t overstuffed, which might cause uneven temperatures. Stuffing cups can also be prepared the day before Thanksgiving, and can be kept in the fridge until ready to bake. Then, depending on the desired texture of stuffing or dressing you prefer, you bake these muffins for the appropriate length of time.
Each little cup is easy to serve, has an intriguing eye-appeal, and still delivers all the delicious flavors and great textures. Served soft and very moist, or more bread-like with crispy edges, the cinnamon, herbs, sweet and tart fruits, and the crunch of nuts are all tucked in.
I like this new approach to one of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes. Let me know what you think!
(My camera decided to go on strike for the holidays, so my photos are a bit rough – to say the least. These are much better than they appear here. 🙁 )
Gluten-free, Dairy-free Thanksgiving Bread Stuffing Cups
Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Stovetop cooking time: about 15 minutes
Rest time: 30 minutes to overnight
Baking time: 20-30 minutes, depending on your texture preference
Baking temp: 375ºF
Makes: 9 cups – recipe easily doubles
2 Tablespoon non-dairy margarine or extra virgin olive oil – I use one Tablespoon of each – I like Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread – soy free
1/2 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
salt and pepper, to taste
4 dried apricot halves
1/3 cup finely chopped dried tart cherries
1/3 cup finely chopped, unsalted walnuts
1/2 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped
2 cups seasoned croutons (must be crispy croutons, not just seasoned bread cubes)
1 Tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth – Swanson’s Natural Goodness Chicken Broth or homemade work well
Spray or lightly oil muffin tins.
Heat margarine and/or oil in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery and sauté until not quite tender but no longer crisp, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking or browning, about 5 minutes. Stir sage, cinnamon, and thyme into the vegetables Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook another 1-2 minutes. Add cherries, walnuts, and apple. Cook 1-2 minute more, or until carrot and celery are tender. Remove from heat.
Combine vegetable mixture in a large bowl with croutons. Add parsley and chicken broth. Stir well to distribute all flavors. Set aside for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to distribute chicken broth over all croutons so they can become well moistened and begin to soften. If baking immediately, preheat oven now to 375ºF. If you’re making these in advance and waiting to bake, see next step.
Scoop (I find using an ice cream scoop works well and creates the perfect cup portions in the tin) mixture into prepared muffin tins. Bake for about 20 minutes for soft, moist stuffing, or about 25 to 30 minutes for a bread-like dressing with crispy edges. If you’re waiting to bake these later, scoop as directed, then cover with foil and refrigerate until ready to bake. If refrigerated before baking, add an additional 5 minutes or so to baking times.
Serve stuffing cups hot. To store leftovers, I find it’s very easy to place them back into muffin tins and re-cover with foil, then refrigerate. They can also be place into a re-sealable container and refrigerated. Reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds or so, or place muffin tins back into preheated oven and bake until thoroughly heated.
Safe food is a journey … Thrive!™
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