Top-Secret Vegan Stuffing Recipe for Thanksgiving
Urgent dispatch from Florence, where we've just arrived to spend Thanksgiving. Our weird London-based lifestyle habits have resulted in our doing Thanksgiving dinner on Tuesday the past few years. Last night I made a crazy-good vegan version of the stuffing I grew up with.
Crazy-good vegan stuffing
This savory stuffing recipe is a vegan adaptation of our family's classic, well-loved Thanksgiving stuffing. It pairs perfectly with our wildly popular vegetarian gravy (which has an easy vegan option). It's named top-secret vegan stuffing because if you don't tell someone it's vegan, they won't know. As my original headnote read, "This is a wonderfully savory, totally legit stuffing that happens to be vegan. Inform guests on a need-to-know basis. Do not tell Uncle Earl. Repeat: Do not tell Uncle Earl."
- 2 good-quality baguettes, to yield about 10 cups dried bread cubes
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large leeks
- 3 ribs celery (green inner ones with some leaves attached are great here)
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 heaping cups sliced mushroom, any type(s) (from about 300g)
- 1 cup jarred roasted chestnuts, chopped
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 3 fresh sage leaves, minced
- 1 cup dry white wine that you'd be happy to drink
- 3 cups good vegetable stock
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup minced parsley, chives, or a combination
- Preheat oven to 200°F. If you have a convection oven, go for it. You'll need two racks, so, as they tell schoolchildren in England, be sensible.
- Cut the baguettes into 3/4-inch cubes and distribute between two rimmed sheet pans without crowding. Bake for about an hour, peeking in and maybe shaking the pans occasionally, until the cubes are dry all the way through. You can do this up to a few days in advance if you like.
- While the bread is drying, slice the white and light green parts of the leeks into thin half moons and wash thoroughly in several changes of water in a colander. (Leeks can be very sandy.) Cut the celery into a nice small dice — you'll want it small so it cooks as quickly as the leeks. Dust off the mushrooms with a damp paper towel and slice, removing any tough stems.
- Heat the oil over medium-low heat in a wide, reasonably nonstick frying pan. Add the leeks, celery, and salt, and cook, stirring from time to time, until starting to soften, about five minutes. If you suspect a hint of browning, reduce the heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until they've released their moisture and it's mostly simmered away.
- Add the chestnuts, soy sauce, wine, thyme, sage, raise heat to medium-high, and cook for three minutes more. Remove from heat.
- Remove bread cubes from oven and raise heat to 375°F. Move a rack to the middle. Tip the bread cubes into a large mixing bowl. Add the contents of the frying pan and the stock, pepper, and parsley or chives. Toss gently to combine and allow the bread to soak up all the liquid. Taste and adjust seasoning if you like. (It's vegan...shh...so no food-safety worries.)
- Spoon the stuffing into a baking dish. Shallow 9x13 is good if you want more crisp bits, lidded 3-quart casserole is good if you like a higher proportion of custardy deliciousness.
- Bake, covered (with foil or the casserole lid) for 35 minutes. Then remove cover and bake 15 minutes more. Serve hot, with Umami Girl's Best Vegetarian Gravy.
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