Thanksgiving-In-Your-Mouth Paleo Stuffing
This food pile was based on my friend Bethany’s creation for our paleo pals swap in November. The girl can cook.
I’ve made variations of it twice since then, and a whole ton of it for our family's Thanksgiving feast.
Somehow, my mom, the fiance and I ended up in charge of bringing stuffing and red wine, two things that are out for me in the eating realm right now. So my mom took over traditional stuffing and I made this Whole30 stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner with the future in-laws (all 30 of them).
It is so, so, so good. You are going to want to make a lot and eat it for every meal until it’s gone. It takes more time than most of the usual things I make, but it's a special occasion kinda dish and well-worth the effort.
Thanksgiving-In-Your-Mouth Paleo Stuffing
Paleo, Gluten-free + Whole30 approved; based on my pal Bethany's creation
- 1 lb spicy Italian sausage (got mine at Whole Foods’ butcher counter, which has ingredients listed for their rotating sausages)
- At least two large onions, sliced pretty thin (I used four small ones, but would’ve put more if I had more on hand at the time)
- Two big cartons of baby bella mushrooms, sliced
- Two bags of frozen kale, defrosted ideally (so much easier than cleaning and chopping fresh stuff)
- 2-3 apples, chopped
- Dried cranberries
- Cayenne pepper
- Garlic powder
- Pumpkin pie spice (or a mix of cinnamon, lemon peel, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, etc.—I picked up the blend fro TJ's and oddly get a lot of use out of it)
- Black pepper and salt
- Olive oil or ghee for sautéing
- Toasted almonds
First, caramelize those onions like a boss. Here’s how to do it under 15 minutes (it used to take me FOREVER, because I was doing it wrong): In a non-nonstick pan with no oil, cook the onions on medium high heat, watching and stirring fairly often so they don’t burn. They’ll start to brown much faster without oil. The pan might get a bit burny looking on the bottom, but don’t worry. As long as the actual onions aren’t burning, you’re good. Just don’t scrape the pan too hard while you’re stirring or you’ll taste the burniness. I like super caramelized onions, very dark brown and sweet. But I didn’t have time to go quite that far with them, so when they got to be a nice medium tan color, I added some olive oil and salt to the pan and then let them keep caramelizing (just more slowly). The longer you hold off on the oil, the better the flavor. Just keep stirring and checking and you’ll have the perfect onions in about 15-20 minutes.
While this is happening, brown the sausage with a generous sprinkling of sage, tarragon and marjoram in another pan and then transfer to a big covered pot on low heat (or no heat for now, if you’re moving a bit slower). Using the sausage fat (and added oil if you need it), sauté your apples with a generous sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice and salt for about 10 minutes. You don’t want them to be too soft or they won’t hold up to the rest of the process. Add the apples to the big pot, along with your probably-perfect onions. Add olive oil to your pan and throw in the mushrooms, sprinkled with nutmeg, garlic powder, salt and pepper. I cook them covered so the little bit of mushroom broth can add to the flavor of everything too. When they are done, mix that whole pan into the big pot along with the dried cranberries (the longer they are in the mix, the plumper they get). Mix in your two bags of kale (if you use fresh kale, you’ll just have to wait for it to wilt in there and might want to add a bit of water to the pot to help that process along).
At this point I did a taste check and added more of basically every spice: pumpkin pie spice, sage, tarragon and marjoram, along with some cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper.
Then heat everything covered on low until it’s hot. You can let it keep going for a little while or pop it in the oven to keep warm after that. I made this a day ahead (which is awesome, because the flavors actually get better with time) and then heated it up in the oven before dinner and sprinkled it with toasted almonds. The end.
- I also had big plans to add roasted squash to the mix, but that didn’t happen this time. In my brain though, I imagined that it would be the most epic pile of holiday food ever. All I’d have to do is put turkey on my plate and it would be instant Thanksgiving. Bethany served it with a half of a roasted and herbed acorn squash so we could eat the stuffing right out of there like a bowl. AND IT WAS INDEED EPIC.