Allergy-Proofing My Thanksgiving Faves: The Pioneer Woman's Cornbread Dressing and Cranberry Sau
I adore the Pioneer Woman. No, I don't know Ree Drumond personally, but her culinary creations have awed me for years, and I'm pretty certain she's the sweetest redhead in state of Oklahoma. Truth be told, there's no time of year that I pay closer attention to what's cooking in her kitchen than right now. If you've never visited her website, please sit down, get comfy, click here... and prepare yourself. Her holiday menus are absolute GOLDMINES of goodness.
There is one caveat, however... Ree loves her some butter, heavy cream, eggs and nuts, like so many amazing cooks do. That's why I set out on a mission a couple of years ago to tweak what I loved most about some of her recipes and try my darndest to make them safe for my boys. Well, guess what: I was able to take one of my absolute favorites of hers and turn it into the dairy, egg and nut-free star of my Thanksgiving dinner! Yes, the Pioneer Woman's cornbread dressing with sausage and apples is a dish to behold, and tweaking it to make it allergy-safe is easier than you might think. While this dressing does involve some serious prep time (I've learned to start on it a day or two ahead), it is SO worth it. I can't imagine Thanksgiving dinner without it on our table.
Pioneer Woman's Cornbread Dressing with Sausage & Apples: Egg, Dairy & Nut-Free Version
32 oz. of white or baby portabella mushrooms
4 tbsp. canola oil
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
*6 cups cornbread, cut Into 1-inch cubes (see below for my dairy & egg-free cornbread recipe)
**6 cups French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (my favorite egg, dairy and nut-free French bread is Le Petit Francais brand - you can find it in the frozen bread section of just about any grocery store and it's made on a nut and peanut-free bakery line
1/2 pound sausage (I like using sage-flavored when I can find it)
2 cups diced white or yellow onion
5 granny smith apples, diced in large chunks
5 tbsp. brown sugar
1 cup white wine (or chicken broth, if you prefer)
32 oz. of low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp. ground thyme
1/2 tsp. tumeric
2 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
black pepper to taste
a handful of fresh parsley, minced
*The dairy & egg-free cornbread can easily be made gluten-free. Just substitute your favorite gluten-free flour (King Arthur's Gluten-Free Baking Mix is my go-to).
**You can also substitute a gluten-free French bread or thick-cut sandwich bread. For those in Georgia (and parts of Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky and South Carolina), Pure Knead is an awesome top 8-free bread option and can be found in Kroger stores. You can visit their website here.
This recipe does best when the breads are dried out a bit, so begin by preparing the cornbread and French bread a day or two in advance. It will be perfect by the time you start assembling the dressing.
You can put together the dressing itself a day ahead, too - it's totally up to you! When it's time to start preparing the dressing, preheat oven to 500 degrees and take out two large cookie sheets to use for roasting the mushrooms. Wash and pat dry mushrooms and toss them in a bowl with canola oil and 1/2 teaspoons of your salt. Divide mushrooms between your two cookie sheets and bake for approximately 20 minutes, stirring halfway through roasting to ensure even cooking. When done, the mushrooms will be deep brown in color; take them out of the oven and set aside.
In a large skillet, brown the sausage over medium heat. When cooked through, remove sausage from pan and set aside in a separate bowl. Add diced onions to the skillet (without washing the pan out - you want the flavor of the sausage drippings) and brown for five minutes. Increase heat to high and add diced apples, brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture becomes a golden brown in color. Turn heat back down to medium, pour in wine (or chicken broth), stir well and cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until liquid is reduced by half. Pour apple/onion mixture into a bowl and set aside.
Return skillet to medium heat (again, without washing) and add chicken broth, thyme, turmeric, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Heat for a few minutes, then set aside.
Take the cornbread and French bread chunks and put in a large bowl. Add browned sausage, mushrooms and apple/onion mixture. Gradually add broth mixture and toss the ingredients together (you may not use all of the liquid - it just depends on how moist you want your dressing). Finally, add minced parsley.
Pour everything into a large baking dish and bake at 375 for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Or, if you like stuffing your turkey with your dressing, go for it!
*Dairy & Egg-Free Cornbread
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (substitute g-free flour to make gluten-free)
3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons melted dairy-free butter (I use Earth Balance)
2 Ener G egg replacer "eggs" (3 teaspoons of egg replacer whisked with 4 tablespoons of water, until frothy)
1 1/4 cup dairy-free milk (I used hemp milk)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. Once dry ingredients are combined, make a well in the middle of the bowl and add oil, melted dairy-free butter, egg replacer and non-dairy milk. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together until just combined (it is okay if batter is slightly lumpy). Spray an 8x10 baking dish with dairy-free non-stick cooking spray and pour batter into prepared dish. Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.
Click here for The Pioneer Woman's original recipe for Cornbread Dressing with Sausage & Apples.
But, wait.. there's more! No offense, canned cranberry sauce, but PLEASE people, do yourself a favor and walk yourself right on past that aisle in the grocery store this Thanksgiving! Instead, try a delicious FRESH version of cranberry sauce that is just perfect when served with the amazing dressing you are making. This recipe happens to be top-8 free all by itself, so no alternation necessary. Click here for The Pioneer Woman's recipe for homemade cranberry sauce.
Here's to a wonderful and SAFE Thanksgiving full of family, delicious allergy-friendly food and many opportunities to reflect on all that you are thankful for this year. If you are anything like me, I am certain there is much.