If at first you don’t succeed…
Thanksgiving is coming and I’ve been wanting to duplicate the flavours of my mom’s amazing holiday stuffing, but as gluten free, and, without bread. How’s that for a challenge…? I’ve altered the recipe to use brown rice, but kept the other ingredients pretty much the same – after all I did want it to taste like hers. I have attempted this before, but the end result was heavy and not much to my liking. After considerable thought, and some tweaking, I’m very happy with this recipe for GF Brown Rice & Mushroom Dressing!
Dressing vs Stuffing
So, you know that saying about some things being hard to remember and some things you never forget…? Well this is a case of the latter, and a test question, years ago I don’t mind saying.. from culinary school. Are you ready…?
Test Question: what is the difference between dressing and stuffing?
Have you got the answer…? Are you sure, I mean really sure…?
Test Answer: dressing is cooked on the side, and stuffing is
when it’s cooked inside the bird.
Food & the past.
We all have our traditions, favourites & must-haves when it comes to holiday cooking & recipes – remember the Friends’ Thanksgiving episode where Monica had to make several kinds of potatoes… ?! We also have our reasons for making it dressing vs stuffing, usually based on how it was made in the family. In the past I would’ve happily stuffed the bird with a bread based mixture, but with stuffing being such a hit at the table, there was always extra made – so some had to be cooked on the side, as dressing. Both good, in their own way.
I’ve yet to stuff a bird with a rice based mixture, so can offer no advice. I can tell you however, that this rice based dressing cooked on the side, is not heavy, not greasy and so tasty you can eat it on it’s own. In fact, your vegetarian friends will love you for making it! You could also make it vegan by holding the butter and using just olive oil.
As mentioned I’m totally thrilled with the results, and I think mom would’ve been proud, as she always was, with me, and my culinary efforts. I can still see her positively beaming with joy when I graduated with… ahem, Honours, from culinary school – all those years ago, and many years after starting at her side, as her little kitchen helper. And yet… to be perfectly honest about it, I know she would’ve still preferred her recipe – if you had known my mom, you would know this to be true!
… for following along, and please do take a moment to leave a comment, if this has reached you in some way.
As always, buon appetito~
Brown Rice & Mushroom Dressing (GF)
I love it when needing to change a recipe makes it just as tasty, and can actually be better for you; in this case using whole grain brown rice to replace cubes of bread.
- 2 cups cooked brown rice cooled (make a day or two before to save time)
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil plus more as needed
- 2 teaspoons butter plus more as needed
- 6 large cremini mushrooms or white button mushrooms, halved then thinly sliced
- 1 small onion, halved, then chopped into small dice
- 2 stalks celery ends trimmed and sliced thinly across
- 1 red or green apple MacIntosh or Golden Delicious roughly chopped (for interesting texture)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed dried savory
- 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed dried sage from whole leaves if you can
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 - 2 teaspoons Kosher salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Get out a baking dish, roughly 8” square or similar, or use 6 - 8 1/2 cup ramekins placed on a baking sheet. Lightly butter (or oil) whatever baking dish(es) you’re using and set aside.
Put the cooked & cooled rice in a large bowl and set aside.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the olive oil and butter. Add the mushrooms, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove from skillet to a small bowl (you'll add them back later.)
Put the skillet back on the heat, turned down to medium, and add more oil/butter if dry. Add the onion, celery, and a pinch of salt & pepper and cook stirring for about 5 minutes. Add the apple then dried herbs and cook for another 2 - 3 minutes.
With a heatproof spatula, scrape everything into the bowl with rice, then add the parsley. Taste the mixture, and add salt & pepper as/if needed. Combine well.
Spoon into the baking pan or ramekins (hold the ramekins over the bowl) and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, or bit of butter if you're using.
Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until golden on top.
Tip: a great make ahead, these can be done a day or even two before, and baked once your bird is removed from the oven. Or bake ahead, and gently heat in a microwave before serving
Tip #2: use your own favourite seasonings/herb mixture if you wish - it's all about how we 'know it' to taste.