Are you absolutely sick of Thanksgiving food yet? I understand if you’re just over it. Most people are. Me, however? I’m still in love with holiday grub. Especially with this dressing.
Every year, I wonder to myself why I only make it on Thanksgiving. I suspect it is because when I was younger and more ambitious, I asked my grandma how to make her cornbread dressing.
(Side note: I didn’t even know stuffing made with bread was something people ate until I was an adult. All the people I knew ate dressing.)
Her instructions began “First you take a duck…” and went on, and on, and on for what seemed like ages. I decided any dish which required me to make two whole other dishes first didn’t make a whole lot of sense, and decided I would just enjoy it at her house.
As the years went by, I changed states. I also changed my mind about how much trouble stuffing was worth. Going home to Chicago was sometimes impossible, so I had to learn how to make a decent substitute. While I never equaled my grandmother’s dressing — she just had a way of “puttin’ her foot in it,” as folks used to say — I came close enough to satisfy my yearning for that flavor.
Since we are eating paleo these days, the main ingredients in cornbread dressing are off the list. My big project, therefore, was to make something that came close. I had planned to test it a couple of times before Thanksgiving, but that didn’t end up happening. On Thanksgiving Day, I found myself rushed and needing to improvise. With a cranky six year old and a starving spouse, I needed to get dinner on the table in the next 30 minutes.
(This did not fill my heart with joy. I am slightly obsessive about special occasion menus in general, and this one in particular. Most years, I spend the month of November planning and re-planning this meal because I enjoy it so.)
Shockingly, the quick-and-dirty version was pretty darned good. My very particular husband ate nearly the entire pan. However, I suspected I could do better. The version here is Dressing 2.0; still quick while having even more flavor.
Following the wise advice of gluten-free girl and the chef (Shauna and Danny Ahern, who have written a multitude of lovely cookbooks), I created my own gluten-free flour mix. Using their recommended ratio of 40% protein/60% starch, and attempting more algebra than I had since the eighth grade, I made a mix of almond, coconut and tapioca flours. Although I measured it precisely with my (new!) kitchen scale, you might not want such a big batch. For those of you who want to make a bit less, I used roughly 2 parts coconut/3 parts almond/8 parts tapioca. A store-bought GF mix would work, too.
Paleo “Cornbread” Dressing
- 1/3 large onion rough dice
- 2 stalks celery sliced
- 2 carrots sliced
- 1 teaspoon sage leaves minced
- 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
- 4 cups gluten-free flour mix 2 parts coconut flour, 3 parts almond flour and 8 parts tapioca flour
- 2 cups cashew meal
- 1-1/2 tablespoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons melted butter or other oil
- 5 eggs
- 1-1/2 cups broth
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large cast iron skillet, combine onions, celery, carrots, sage, salt and pepper with a two tablespoons of fat. Saute over medium-low heat until veggies are softened (approximately ten minutes). When done, remove vegetables from pan.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the flour mix, cashew meal, baking soda and salt; stir thoroughly. Add melted oil, eggs, and broth, stirring after each addition (the batter will be somewhat stiff until Fold in sauteed vegetables.
- (There should still be some oil remaining in the skillet from cooking the vegetables; if not, add another tablespoon. Pour the batter into the skillet; bake for 40 minutes or until top is browned and crusty. Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving.