Stuffing, the disputed but self-evidently regnant king of Thanksgiving sides, is just...such a good idea. I mean, bread tossed with every kind of umami, then baked until crisped on top but soft underneath. Traditionally, as part of the Thanksgiving table conversation, at least in this house, someone pipes up with the highly pertinent observation: Why don't we eat stuffing more often? I've taken up the mantle and I really do make stuffing throughout the cold-weather months. After all, there are lots of different philosophies (one could say shitot) on stuffing-making, and all of them are valid. But this cornbread stuffing, dairy-free so you can serve it alongside roast turkey or chicken, is the fan favorite.
How to make stuffing
Stuffing has several steps to it, though none are complicated. You start by letting the bread base dry out, so it won't get mushy in the final dish. Some people like to dry it out in the oven, but I think slicing it up into cubes and leaving it out overnight, spread out on a sheet pan, is fine.
On stuffing-making day, you cook down the seasoned vegetables (here we're using onions, celery, and mushrooms). While that's happening, you'll scramble some eggs in your biggest mixing bowl and toss the bread cubes in the egg. Then, you dump the veg directly on top of the egg-coated bread cubes, tossing again.
Because we're using cornbread here, which is softer and more porous than French bread or similar, I don't add any broth. I just turn out the mixture into a baking dish and bake the stuffing until it's crisped and golden on top.
About that cornbread
You need a batch of cornbread ready to go to start this recipe. I use my dairy-free cornbread, which is best made a day ahead of the stuffing. (But in my experience, if you make it earlier on the same day, no one complains.) You could also use your own recipe, a box mix, or store bought. You'll need the equivalent of a square pan (8" or 20cm) worth of cornbread.
Do you need margarine?
I prefer to use dairy alternatives other than margarine where I can, but there are a few places where margarine (a.k.a. vegan butter, like Earth Balance buttery sticks) adds a lot of flavor, and this is one of them. (As is the cornbread recipe.) If you prefer to skip the margarine, you can cook the vegetables using only olive oil.
Okay, but how about the fancy mushrooms?
Nope. I've made this many a time with ordinary brown mushrooms. However, since regular mushrooms form the base here, the small package of gourmet mushrooms isn't prohibitive and adds a lot. I recommend it, but don't let a lack of fancy mushrooms stop you from making this recipe.
Dairy-Free Cornbread Stuffing with Wild Mushrooms (parve)
- 1 recipe dairy-free cornbread
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp margarine (see note) - I use Earth Balance buttery sticks
- 1 large onion, sliced - or 2 medium
- top half bunch celery, with the leaves
- 12 oz cremini or baby bella mushrooms, sliced - 340 g (usually 1 large package)
- 8 oz gourmet mushrooms such as shiitake, oyster, or others (a mix works well - see note for substitutions) - 225 g (usually 1 small package)
- 1 large sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 bunch fresh sage
- 1 Tbsp poultry seasoning
- ½ Tbsp kosher salt
Dry out the cornbread:
- The day before preparing the stuffing, score your cornbread into cubes, about 1" / 2.5cm, and turn the cubes out onto a sheet pan. Leave, uncovered, overnight to dry.
- When you're ready to begin making the stuffing, preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C and grease a large baking pan (casserole dish) with cooking spray.
Prepare the vegetables:
- In a large skillet, heat the oil with the margarine. Add the sliced onion and brown it over medium-low heat, until softened, about 10 minutes.
- While the onions cook, pulse the celery in a food processor and slice the mushrooms. Raise the heat a bit, add in the mushrooms, and cook until softened, about another 10 minutes. Stir in the sage, rosemary, poultry seasoning, and salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes more, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
Toss the cornbread cubes with egg:
- Place the eggs in a large bowl and scramble with a fork, adding about 2 tbs water. Add the cubes of cornbread into the bowl and mix gently with a rubber spatula until the cubes are coated with egg.
- Add the vegetable mixture from the skillet to the bowl with the coated cornbread cubes. Toss gently to distribute, then turn out into the prepared baking pan.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the stuffing is crisped and golden on top.