Gluten-Free Thanksgiving – Easier Than You Think!

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Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday of the year! I feel so sorry for people who don’t live in countries where Thanksgiving is celebrated. It is a holiday that revolves around cooking, eating, and spending time with loved ones. And seriously, how does it get any better than that?


For years, I continued to make certain things the way I always had, with gluten-filled ingredients, because I thought that not everyone would appreciate a gluten-free Thanksgiving. Then I wised up and realized that if I liked something, chances are that others would too. And besides, when I go to the trouble to prepare a gorgeous meal, who can complain? So, my house—no gluten! Not even on Thanksgiving. And you know what? It was not as hard as I imagined it would be to make all my favorites gluten-free with no sacrifice on taste.


Interestingly enough, my gluten-eating guests consistently comment that after my Thanksgiving meal, they don’t feel bloated and uncomfortable after eating my gluten-free Thanksgiving dinner. Hmm, maybe there is something to this gluten-free diet after all.


Here are few of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes and tips on how to convert your family favorites to gluten-free and all the recipes are adaptable for dairy-free as well.


Let’s talk turkey! Not all turkeys are gluten-free, sometimes, especially with the self-basting type, wheat flour is injected into the turkey so make sure you read the label!


Gravy: Making gluten-free gravy is ridiculously simple! Here’s how you do it:


Gluten-Free Gravy


Ingredients:


2-1/4 cups gluten-free chicken stock (or you can use turkey drippings plus chicken stock to equal 2 cups)
2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
Two medium white or yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, nondairy butter substitute like Earth Balance or turkey fat
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
Giblets from the turkey which have been cooked and finely diced (optional)
2 tablespoon heavy cream (optional)


Directions:


Mix 1/4 cup chicken stock with the cornstarch or arrowroot and set aside.


In a large skillet, cook the onions with butter, Earth Balance, or turkey fat over medium-low heat until they are very soft and lightly browned. Add the remaining chicken stock, salt pepper and poultry seasoning. Increase heat and bring to a mild boil. Add the cornstarch mixture and bring back to a boil. Boil, stirring constantly for one to two minutes or until thick. Add the cream and giblets if desired stir well and taste for seasoning. Add a little more salt, pepper, and or poultry seasoning if needed. Serve warm.


Makes about 3 cups of gravy.


White Sauce: Again, making a gluten-free white sauce (or more technically Béchamel sauce) is crazy easy! White sauce is a base for things like creamed spinach and a host of other dishes. I use it as a base for Creamed Spinach Gratin. If you are dairy-free, substitute the butter for Earth Balance and the milk and cream for coconut milk or dairy-free milk of your choice, the coconut milk will give it a thicker consistency but may have slight coconut taste which you can counteract with seasoning.


Gluten-Free Béchamel (White Sauce)


Ingredients:


2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
Two cups milk, use divided
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Two large white onions, chopped
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup heavy cream


Directions:


Mix the cornstarch or arrowroot with 1/4 cup milk and set aside.


Melt butter in a heavy bottomed sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent and very soft but not browned, about fifteen minutes. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Cook for about two more minutes. Add rest of milk and heavy cream to onion mixture and cook until just boiling, about five minutes. Add the cornstarch and milk mixture, bring back to a boil and cook, stirring for one to two minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning is needed.


And now for my personal favorite part of the meal: the stuffing!


Gluten-Free Cornbread Sausage Stuffing


Cornbread:


Two large eggs
1-1/2 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups Kinnikinnick gluten-free cornbread mix
2 tablespoons sugar


Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with gluten-free nonstick cooking spray.


Whish all ingredients in a large mixing bowl just until combined. A few lumps are okay. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for thirty to thirty-five minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


Let cornbread cool and then crumble onto a baking dish and let dry out over night.


Stuffing:


Dried cornbread crumbles from above recipe
1 pound country sausage
One medium bunch celery, chopped
Two medium onions, chopped
Three small leeks, cleaned and sliced
3/4 cup unsalted butter or Earth Balance
Two large eggs, beaten
1-1/2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1–2 cups gluten-free chicken stock


Place cornbread crumbles in a large mixing bowl. Cook the sausage over medium heat until fully cooked. Pour off the fat and add 1/2 cup of butter or Earth Balance. Add the chopped celery, onions, and leeks. Cook until the vegetables are translucent but not too browned, about ten minutes. Add the sausage/vegetable mixture into the bowl with the cornbread crumbles along with the melted butter and add the eggs, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add just enough chicken stock make the mixture moist but not mushy.


Stuff the cavity of the turkey with some of the stuffing being careful not to overfill. Place the rest of the stuffing into a butter casserole dish. Pour about 1/4 cup more stock over the top of the stuffing and dot the top with the remaining butter that has been cut into small pieces. Bake for thirty minutes in a 350°F oven.


Makes enough to stuff a 20-pound turkey with an extra casserole.


Have a great and gluten-free Thanksgiving dinner!

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