Thursday, November 10, 2011
Stuffing has always been high on my list of favorite Thanksgiving dishes. This year I wanted to play around with gluten-free dishes based on whole grains that could go inside a bird but also stand alone. So I looked in my pantry and pulled out all the half-full bags of the different colorful types of grains that I’ve been working with lately. First I combined them in visually pleasing ways, and then I decided what else I’d put into each stuffing (or pilaf, which is what these dishes really are).
What is it that I love about stuffing? For me, the identifying ingredients are quite simple — celery, onion and sage. I’ve never cared for meaty stuffings, but I’ve always liked traditional bread dressings, even when the bread came from a bag. Why? Because of the sage, celery and often thyme that went along with it. I’ve used celery, onion and sage in all five of this week’s whole-grain combos, and thyme in several. There’s a lot going on here when it comes to texture, and some sweet and savory contrasts. They’ll be welcomed by the gluten-intolerant and the vegetarians at your table — but I bet the bread and sausage eaters will like them too.
Wild Rice and Brown Rice Stuffing With Apples, Pecans and Cranberries
Like many Thanksgiving dishes, this pilaf combines sweet and savory foods. Apples and cranberries are high in phenolic acids, which are believed to have antioxidant properties.
1 1/2 cups wild rice
3/4 cup short-grain brown rice
6 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small or medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup diced celery
2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
1 tablespoon butter
2 apples, cored and cut in 1/2-inch dice
1/3 cup lightly toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1. Combine the wild rice with 4 1/2 cups stock or water in one saucepan and the brown rice with 1 1/2 cups stock or water in another smaller saucepan. Add salt to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer the brown rice for 35 to 40 minutes, until the rice is tender and all of the liquid has been absorbed. Turn off the heat, place a clean kitchen towel over the pot and return the lid. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Simmer the wild rice for 40 to 50 minutes, until the grains have begun to splay. Drain through a strainer if there is liquid in the pot, and return to the pot. Place a clean kitchen towel over the pot and return the lid. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
2. While the grains are cooking, prepare the remaining ingredients. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the celery and a generous pinch of salt, and continue to cook until the onion is completely tender, another 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook, stirring, until it is fragrant, another 30 to 60 seconds. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl. Add the cooked grains and stir together.
3. Return the skillet to the stove and heat over medium-high heat. Add the butter, and when the foam subsides add the apples. Cook, stirring or tossing in the pan, until lightly colored, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add to the bowl with the grains. Add the remaining ingredients and stir together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a lightly oiled or buttered baking dish and cover with foil.
4. Warm the stuffing in a 325-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.
Yield: Makes about 8 cups, serving 12 to 16.
Advance preparation: The cooked grains will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator and can be frozen. The stuffing benefits from being made a day ahead.
Nutritional information per serving (12 servings): 188 calories; 1 gram saturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 2 grams monounsaturated fat; 3 milligrams cholesterol; 33 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 21 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 4 grams protein.
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