Despite the proliferation of holidays we have to celebrate throughout the year–Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, Purim etc.–my family really only makes stuffing twice a year: Thanksgiving and Pesach. On Pesach, our stuffing of choice is invariably farfel, which is made out of small pieces of matzah, but on Thanksgiving, it somehow became tradition to have cornbread sausage stuffing, even though we’re a bunch of NY Jews through and through. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with all those other bread based stuffings because (real) bread is pretty much always delicious, but cornbread stuffing has always been my favorite. Maybe it’s the interplay of the sweet cornbread–I like to speckle with a fragrant mix of herbs (usually herbes de Provence) as an homage to the herb flecked bag of croutons one can find in grocery stores–with the contrast of the succulent and savory (vegan) sausage.
Now in my family (well on my mom’s side anyway) we always did several incarnations of stuffing. The first incarnation was the stuffing actually used “to stuff” (gross), which was fully done up with mushrooms and onions. Then, there was out of bird run off with sausage (back then it was meat sausage) as well as mushrooms and onions. There was a version without sausage for my vegetarian cousin (and eventually me, which became my vegan version that I make today!), and the last was what we called “nerd” stuffing, which had sausage, but no mushrooms and onions, for my aunt who didn’t like the vegetation. Why nerd stuffing? Because when my cousin was a kid she asked why our aunt didn’t eat the regular stuffing, to which her mother responded, “because she’s a nerd.” And thus, nerd stuffing was born.
Nowadays, I always put mushrooms and onions into my stuffing, because they just add to the depth of flavor, with the mushrooms enhancing the umami flavors in the sausage, and the onions lending a nuanced carmel undertone to complement the cornbread. Then to top it all off, I save some of the mushrooms, onions, and sausage and make a really tasty gravy. I will confess, despite my inclusion of mushrooms, I only do it for the flavor it adds…and then I pick them out and leave them on my plate (or now give them to my brother).
The cornbread is really super easy (my dad even started it for me last year) and can be made several days in advance before turning it into stuffing.
Cornbread (adapted from Veganomicon)
- 2 c non dairy milk
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 c cornmeal
- 1 c all purpose flour
- 1/4 c sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp dried herbes de Provence
- 1/3 c oil
- 1/2 c (or one 6 oz container, not scraped) plain, non dairy yogurt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13 in baking pan.
Combine the non dairy milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside to curdle as you prepare everything else.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and herbs. Create a well in the center and add the milk mixture, oil, and yogurt. Use a wooden spoon to mix together until just combined; some lumps are ok. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 32 minutes, until a toothpick or slim knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.
- 1 recipe cornbread
- 1 package (of 4 links) vegan sausage, my favorite in the US is Field Roast apple-sage variety
- 2 c sliced onions (sweet or white is fine)
- 2 c mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt to taste
- 2 c prepared vegetable broth
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the sausage and sauté about 5 minutes on each side, until just starting to brown. Add the onions and salt, and sauté another 5-7 minutes, until they have begun to look translucent. Add the mushrooms and salt and saute until everything has cooked down and begun to look slightly brown. This will take about 10-15 minutes. Reserve about a 1/2 c of the mushroom, onion, and sausage mixture for gravy.
In a large casserole pan (or even the same 9×13 baking dish) crumble the cornbread, and stir in the mushroom mixture, until fairly evenly distributed. Begin to slowly add the broth, stirring to evenly coat the cornbread. Only add as much broth as is necessary to sufficiently saturate the bread, you aren’t making soup. Bake in a 350 degree oven, about 30 minutes, or until the top begins to brown, and the stuffing is no longer super wet. Serve with mushroom gravy.
- 1/2 c sauteed mushrooms, onions and sausage, reserved from stuffing
- 1 tbsp olive oil or vegan margarine
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/2 c white wine
- 1 c vegetable broth
Heat the olive oil in a small pan over medium heat (or you can use the same pan you originally cooked them in) and add the mushroom mixture. Saute for about a minute, then add the flour, stirring until evenly distributed on the veggies, and well mixed with the oil. Deglaze the pan with the wine, stirring to ensure that the flour is adequately dissolved. Add the broth and simmer until thickened and slightly reduced. If you like a thicker gravy, feel free to add more flour and reduce more.
This recipe can easily be multiplied if you are feeding more people, but usually I am the only one consuming the gravy, and this is a fairly adequate amount for one person (with plenty of leftovers!)
I’m sorry I somehow have zero pictures of this to share! I’m actually a little shocked considering how many years I’ve been making this recipe, but I guess stuffing isn’t exactly the most photogenic of foods. I promise to take plenty when I make stuffing this year (though I am going to attempt to fry it, rather than bake it…wish me luck!) and will update this page after the fact.
- Better Than Buzzfeed’s Thanksgivikkuh Ideas (tipsyshades.wordpress.com)