Okay, so I probably wouldn’t give an entire kingdom for stuffing (or dressing, depending on which part of the country you’re from), but I’m surely hoping that my latest experiments will turn out something edible. Maybe even good.
You see, it’s been close to two years since I’ve been able to enjoy stuffing with a holiday meal. Why? Because gluten-free bread pretty much sucks. You’ve heard me say it before, and for the most part, I’ll probably always say it. There are a few exceptions … Against the Grain (AtG) baguettes and sesame bagels are really good. I’ve also come to love Udi’s dinner rolls. And just recently, a reader introduced me to Three Bakers bread – and it’s pretty darned good. Especially as toast.
I’ve tried almost every gluten-free bread I can find in stuffing experiments, and even a bag of dried, cubed bread made specifically for that use. None of them turned out a stuffing I could eat. Either the taste was horrible, or the texture made me want to hurl – or both. The bread cubes were far and away the worst. I should have gotten a clue when it took almost half an hour for the broth to be absorbed. Something was definitely not right with that.
Tonight, I tried two tiny batches using the Three Bakers bread and an AtG sesame bagel. I really hoped one of them would give me the taste and texture I’ve been longing for at holiday dinners. The aroma wafting from the oven was promising but unfortunately, neither one worked out as well as I’d hoped.
Just as I started to mix the first batch up, the thought popped into my head that I’d been trying to make it exactly like I used to (with real bread) … including enough liquid to float a battleship. Maybe not quite that much, but normal amounts of broth turn gluten-free bread to literal mush, so I cut back – in a major way. I’m talking maybe two tablespoons for the bagel, and less for the Three Bakers.
The texture was definitely better … for both batches. Much better. It still didn’t taste like real stuffing though.
So while I’m finished with the pre-Thanksgiving experiments, I do know what I’m going to do Thursday. I’m going to use a few slices of the Three Bakers bread and a couple each of the Udi’s dinner rolls and AtG sesame bagels. I’m going to add a little more onion than I might otherwise use, a little more celery, a lot more sage, one well beaten egg, and very little chicken broth.
And I’m going to hope for the best. If it’s not great, I’ll drown it with turkey gravy and try not to notice everyone else enjoying the stuffing I can no longer eat. If it’s horrible, oh well. There’s plenty of time for more experimentation before Christmas and Easter arrive.
How about you other gluten-free eaters? Have you found a recipe for stuffing that tastes and feels like the real thing that you’d be willing to share? I’m not looking for anything fancy. Just white bread, broth, celery, onion, egg, and sage, all dumped in a bowl, mixed together, tossed in a casserole dish, and baked in the oven til done (and a little crunchy on top). That’s what I grew up with – and that’s what I love.
And just because I’m curious, do you prefer your stuffing to be moist, or like me, do you prefer it more dry and crunchy with lots of gravy?
Now, since I probably won’t be posting again until after Friday, I’d like to wish you all a very safe and Happy Thanksgiving.