Iva asked me to blog about a vegetarian stuffing I made for Thanksgiving last month which turned out to be pretty tasty. I've had a beer and can now sorta remember the recipe, so let's get started!
I made a cornbread, mushroom and carmelized onion stuffing last year, which turned out really nice. It was based on a Tyler Florence TV episode I saw, and was pretty simple in that one uses cornbread muffins from the store. This year I decided to kick it up a notch by making the cornbread myself, swiping a basic cornbread recipe from Emeril and giving the dish a bit more flavor and complexity, using a few local ingredients. Let's look at the recipe.
Mushroom Cornbread Stuffing
1 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 lb shitake mushroom caps, sliced
2 oz dried porcini mushrooms, rehydrated
1 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp white truffle oil
6 tbsp butter
2 yellow onions, thin-sliced
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 cups vegetarian chicken-flavored broth
salt and pepper, to taste
For the cornbread
1/4 cup corn oil
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pasillia chili powder
1 cup buttermilk
The night before is a good time to make the cornbread, as it has to cool and dry up a bit before it can be used for stuffing. A cast iron skillet is really important here to get the crusty bottom on the cornbread. I used cornmeal from Native Seeds. I tried a blue and a yellow, both tasted great, but the yellow looked better. The blue cornbread turned out kinda grey. Not terribly appetizing.
Cornbread: Preheat oven to 400 F, heating the skillet in there with the oil. While it's heating mix together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, and pasillia powder in a mixing bowl. Add the buttermilk and egg and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Turn out into the heated skillet and bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool, and break up into pieces with your hands. Leave out overnight so that it gets nice and dry. If it's not dry enough the following day, a little time in a warm oven with help it dry out further.
Onions: Melt 3 tbsp butter in a pan and saute the julienned onions over medium-low heat. This takes about 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally, but not too often. Make sure they don't burn. They should get very soft, fragrant and brown in color. Set aside when done. Restrain yourself from eating them in their entirety.
Mushrooms: Melt 3 tbsp butter in a pan and saute the sliced cremini mushrooms and the sliced shitake caps. I don't use the stems because they are woody. You can save the stems though, as they make a nice soup stock addition. While the mushrooms are releasing their liquid and then browning up, soak the dried porcinis in a cup of hot water for about 30 minutes.
When the mushrooms have started to brown, add a bit of salt, a bit of parsley, a glass of the dry white wine (a glass is important because it lets you try it first) and the reserved liquid from the soaked porcinis (filter using a funnel and a couple layers of paper towel). Keep the pan on the heat for another minute or so until the liquid is cooked down and then remove from heat, tossing with the rehydrated porcinis. Drizzle with 1 tbsp good white truffle oil.
Fruit and Nuts: Slice the pears into 1/2 inch cubes and toss in some boiling water on the stove. Boil for a few minutes or until soft, but not mushy. Strain and set aside. Toast some pine nuts on the stove on medium heat on a dry skillet, tossing them occasionally. When they're brown and smell nutty, they're ready. Set aside.
Putting it together
Now we put everything together. In a large baking dish, toss together the mushroom mixture, the onions, the nuts, the corn bread, the pears, and a reasonable amount of fresh thyme and sage, chopped. Fold together well by hand. Add about a tbsp of salt and some freshly cracked black pepper. Whisk an egg in glass, and pour it over the top, and then pour enough of the broth to thoroughly wet the stuffing. How much you need to add will depend on how dry your cornbread got overnight. Toss together by hand again. Topping with some freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano is acceptable before baking.
Bake at 375 F for 30 minutes. Yum!