Thanksgiving countdown: bring on the stuffing!

November is in full swing, and I bet you’re already thinking about Thanksgiving.

However, Thanksgiving day is usually not a frenzy of vegan cooking for me. Long distance family and friends keep me in cars and buses more than in kitchens. It’s no big deal though. I live a whole year of eating and cooking most any dish I desire (something I’m very thankful for), so I don’t make much of fuss of not cooking an entire vegan feast for that one day.

But….if I were to cook a full menu this year, the centerpiece I would choose is the pumpkin kibbe from my previous post: it’s a golden entree from the oven full of spices and fall flavors. It’s so hearty and satisfying that it would be the perfect unconventional focal point if you love to mix and match vegetable sides. Roasted cauliflower, raw fennel salad, another salad of massaged kale and a lentil soup are elegant companions for this kibbe and a homemade, whole-berry cranberry sauce with a touch of spicy harissa would add a nice holiday twist to the meal. For dessert, since pumpkin is already on the menu, I’d make a chocolate tart or cheesecake from the pie book. Or perhaps a version of a tart tatin (a caramelized French apple tart) recipe I’ve been working on. So yeah, I guess I do have another feast or two left in me.

As far as more traditional Thanksgiving fare, I’m happy to present the crowning glory from the feast for 300 I helped prepare last month. The cornbread stuffing is spiked with veggie chorizo sausage, a now fairly common vegan item. There are so many options available, pick your favorite: make the one in Viva Vegan!, or purchase one of many brands from Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, just to name a few. We used Field Roast’s excellent chorizo in the 70 pounds of stuffing made for the event: toothsome, dripping with convincing deep red juices and richly spiced, it folds brilliantly into the sweet cornbread and aromatic adobo. If you’re skipping faux-meats or soy or seitan all together, leave out the soy chorizo and stir in 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke into sofrito. For an entrée that’s fit for a table centerpiece, stuff it into a partially roasted winter squash.

If you want to follow in the footsteps of the ThanksLiving menu for your own feast, here are a few notes and pointers. And then, onto the stuffing recipe!

 

-We replaced the Brussels sprouts with raw kale, massaging the dressing into the washed, torn leaves. Make your favorite green veggie, or make both!

-If you want kale salad, use 1 ½ pounds of kale and strip off the leaves from the stems (discard the stems for this recipe). Wash, spin dry and tear kale into small bite sized pieces. Whisk together the dressing ingredients (except for the almonds and raisins), and knead into the kale for 3 to 4 minutes until the kale leaves are tender and shiny. Toss in raisins and roasted almonds. This kale can be prepared the day before (add the almonds right before serving) and sealed in tightly covered container in the fridge.

-The cranberry sauce is from Veganomicon with a dash of ancho chile powder. We made ours with over 30 pounds of cranberries, but for your modest batch stir in 2 teaspoons of ancho chile powder into the berries as they’re simmering on the stove. Ancho chiles are relatively mild, not too spicy, with smoky fruity notes.

-The gravy was borrowed from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Appetitie for Reduction. The only adjustment I’d recommend for a holiday feast is to include a tablespoon of olive oil, plus simmer ¼ cup of brown or green lentils with the chickpeas for added richness.

-For Thanksliving we served an all new faux chicken product not available in stores yet; it’s manufactured by Savage River foods in Maryland. The marinade is also straight out of Viva Vegan!, my orange-lime mojo marinade. I use it to roast tofu, but you can substitute tempeh or slices of seitan.

 

Later this week I’ll post my Sweet Potato Chipotle Bisque from Viva Vegan!. It’s a gorgeous soup, sweet and spicy and soothing and so very fall.

 

Cornbread Sofrito Stuffing with Veggie Chorizo sausage
Serves 8-10

Tip: Look for frozen roasted corn kernels and vegan soy chorizo at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

Chorizo

  • 2 crumbled veg chorizo sausages such as Field Roast chorizo
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Sofrito and stuffing

  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 large green bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 green apple, core removed, unpeeled and diced
  • 1 cup roasted corn kernels
  • 2-3 cups warmed vegetable broth
  • One 9 x 13 inch loaf (about 2 pounds of vegan cornbread), crumbled and toasted

1. In a large skillet over medium high heat sauté the crumbled vegan chorizo in 1 tablespoon of oil until sizzling and lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer chorizo from the pan to a plate and add the onion, pepper, jalapeno, garlic, and celery and sauté with the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally; vegetables should be very soft. Sprinkle in thyme, cumin, paprika, and salt and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in ¼ cup of vegetable broth and simmer for 1 minute, then turn off the heat. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil a 9 x 13 x 2 inch ceramic or metal baking pan.

2. In a large mixing bowl add the green apple, roasted corn, crumbled chorizo and crumbled corn bread. Pour the sofrito over the cornbread and fold into the cornbread mixture. Pour a little at a time 1 ¾ cups of warm vegetable broth over the stuffing, mixing thoroughly to moisten the stuffing. Taste the mixture and season with additional salt and a few twists of ground black pepper. If the stuffing seems a little dry, drizzle a little additional vegetable broth over stuffing and stir until an evenly moist consistency is achieved; if stuffing seems a little soggy that’s okay, it’s preferable over too-dry stuffing. Spread stuffing into the pan, cover tightly with foil and bake at for 25 minutes, then remove foil and bake another 6-10 minutes until top is toasted. Serve stuffing hot.

 

Vegan Cornbread, adapted from Veganomicon

Makes one 9 x 13 inch loaf

Tip: Bake the bread a day before making the stuffing to properly dry it out.

  • 2 cups plain soy or almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a metal 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking pan. In a large measuring cup whisk together soy milk and vinegar and let stand for 5 minutes. In a mixing bowl combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and form a well in the center.

2. Add the oil and sugar to the milk mixture and whisk until smooth. Pour into the well of the dry ingredients and stir the cornbread just enough to moisten everything (don’t overmix), and pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 26-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean (a few moist crumbs are okay).

3. To use the cornbread for stuffing, keep the bread in the pan and let stand, uncovered, on a kitchen countertop overnight; this will help the bread dry out. Crumble before using in the stuffing.

Alternatively, you may crumble the bread and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast the cornbread crumbles in a preheated 350 oven for 14-16 minutes or until golden and firm.

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