Thanksgiving: We Love Stuffing

Stuffing was never high on my list of Thanksgiving loves. I never loved the flavor, and was put off by the number of ingredients involved.

That all changed about three years ago when I started making my own, with lots of bacon and sausage.

Anything that can act as a vehicle for as much meat and savory goodness as you can stuff into a pan is good by me. Thanksgiving dishes give me an opportunity to go a little bit crazy and not worry so much about the healthier way that I usually eat. Portion control in the stuffing and mash potatoes department are completely gone. I figure once a year, I can really let loose and pack in the good stuff.

If you can line up all your ingredients and cook the elements you need in advance, this stuffing will come together quickly and easily. There will be lots of dicing, browning and dishes, but all for the good cause of making the best stuffing ever.

This year, I used port to rehydrate the dried porcini mushrooms and added dried California figs, instead of dried apricots.

You can amend this recipe however you'd like: use wine instead of port; morels instead of porcini; pecans instead of chestnuts. Whatever you do, keep the earthy flavors balancing out the sweet and nutty flavors and you'll have yourself a wonderful stuffing.

Below is the recipe, but here are links to some of the main ingredients, which I've posted before:

Roast Chestnuts

Corn Muffins

Oven-baked Bacon

Thanksgiving Porcini, Bacon, Sausage, Cornbread and Chestnut Stuffing

serves 6


  • 5 corn muffins, crumbled (click here for the recipe)
  • 10 to 15 roasted chestnuts, chopped into bits (click here for the recipe)
  • 2 to 4 slices oven-baked bacon, chopped into small bits (click here for the recipe)
  • 4 dried figs, sliced into small pieces
  • 8 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 cup port (or red wine or brandy)
  • 2 hot italian sausages, casing removed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 sweet onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, smashed
  • 6 sage leaves, minced
  • 1 cup chicken stock


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the sausage, breaking it up into small pieces with a fork.
  4. Sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until he meat has browned.
  5. Meanwhile, put the porcini mushrooms and port in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.
  6. Cook the porcini until they have absorbed 2/3 of the liquid.
  7. Once the sausages have browned, add the onions and garlic and cook until they soften, about 10 minutes.
  8. Take a rimmed baking dish and place the corn muffins, chestnuts, walnuts, sage and bacon bits into it.
  9. Add the porcini and the port to the sausage pan, stirring for about five minutes.
  10. While everything cooks, grab a pair of kitchen scissors and cut the porcini into small pieces. You may also need to chop up the sausages a bit, too.
  11. Remove the sauté pan from the heat and add the ingredients to the rimmed baking dish, mixing everything up.
  12. Pour the chicken stock over the stuffing and mix it in to help the cornbread to absorb it.
  13. Place in the oven for 30 minutes, stirring once. It may take a bit longer, it's done when you find the sausage nice a crispy.

Gluten and Dairy Free Cream of Mushroom


I'm reposting this piece from last year. The soup is amazing, and I think everyone should make this for Thanksgiving!

There was a long time (until about 10 years ago) that I didn't care for soup much. I've always loved split pea with ham and New England clam chowder, but other soups just seemed thin and boring to me. In the recent past, though, I realized that soups, curries and stews are all based on the same principles, making me try thicker soups with lots of layers of flavor. A whole new world opened to me. And, of course Asian noodle soups are a favorite of mine now, so I can say I'm a soup lover through and through.

I came across a gluten and dairy free cream of mushroom soup (via my friend Thanya whose sister-in-law is an expert of all things allergen-friendly). And, this year, I added bacon to it, so now, it's perfect.

There are a lot of steps, considering that a traditional cream of mushroom soup doesn't involve three steps to thicken it. And, of course, I love cooking my mushrooms in butter, but that doesn't really fit into my diet right now. By using bacon fat, I was able to bring back some of the depth that butter gives the mushrooms (and of course, anything with bacon is better).

So consider this a nudge to make a wonderful and satisfying cream of mushroom soup for your friends and family this holiday season!

Gluten and Dairy Free Cream of Mushroom Soup

adapted from original recipe: Cybele Pascal, Allergen-Free Cuisine, 10.8.2010

serves 4 to 6


  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small shallots finely minced
  • 1 ½ lb. mushrooms, chopped (I use a mix of white mushrooms and Chantrelles)
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 Tablespoons tapioca starch/flour
  • 2 ½ cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon porcini salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  • ½ cup rice milk
  • 1/2 pound black forest bacon, cooked and diced


  • Over high medium -heat, heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot, large enough to accommodate all ingredients.
  • At this point, I also add in a bit of the grease from the bacon (used for garnish at the end). It give the mushrooms a nice richness.
  • Add porcini salt, shallots and mushrooms, stir often, cook for 3 minutes.
  • Lower heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes until golden brown.
  • Stirring well to coat mushrooms, add in thyme and tapioca starch/flour.
  • Reduce heat to low. Scraping the bottom of the pan to get all the tapioca and mushrooms incorporated, cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Making sure that all clumps are broken up, add 2 cups of the chicken broth, salt and pepper.
  • Stir well, increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Boil remaining 1/2 cup chicken stock and add quick-cook tapioca to the stock. Mix gently.
  • Add chicken stock/quick-cook tapioca mixture to the pot.
  • Keep the heat on a low simmer, stirring often to help the quick-cook tapioca dissolve. It's ready when the tapioca is completely clear.
  • Add rice milk.
  • Pulse in food processor (or use a hand blender or a blender) until desired texture is reached. I keep mine kind of chunky, but you can blend it all the way to smooth.
  • Serve in bowls with diced bacon on top.

Baked Eggs with Fennel and Shitake Mushrooms

 The first time I had baked eggs was in Paris. A large Le Creuset-style saucepan showed up at the table, pipping hot, filled with at least 4 eggs, half a pound of bacon, potatoes and lots of cream. It was delicious.

I vowed to make them at home, which I finally got around to this week. In the two years since the baked eggs of Paris, I've stopped eating dairy. I didn't have any bacon in the house (which rarely happens around here), so I had to think of other mix-ins that would elevate my baked eggs to those I had in Paris.

  Instead of creating a cream-based dish, I went for a mix of sautéed shitake mushrooms and grated fennel with sage. The flavors combined perfectly with the egg, and the texture was great.

 Make sure to

Sage added a nice earthy tone to the mix. I was also going to add my much loved black truffle oil to the eggs, but thought that might be going overboard, flavor wise.

As I write this, I've come up with my next version of this dish: baked eggs with mushrooms, bacon, black truffle oil and sage. Anything you'd add into an omelette will work here, too. Just experiment, watch that the eggs don't cook too long and enjoy!

Baked Eggs with Fennel and Shitake Mushrooms


  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup shredded fennel
  • 8 to 10 shitake mushrooms, tips removed and sliced
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 sage leaves, minced, or 1 twig tarragon, stem removed, leaves minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Heat a small sauté pan, add 2 teaspoons of the olive oil to the pan and the fennel shitake mushrooms and half of the herbs.
  3. Cook for 2 minutes on medium heat until the fennel softens and the shitake mushrooms brown.
  4. Oil two ramekins with the remaining olive oil and crack an egg into each.
  5. Split the fennel and mushroom mixture evenly between the ramekins, spooning it over the egg. Add salt, pepper and fresh herbs.
  6. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until you see the white hardening around the edge of the ramekin.
  7. Serve while still warm.

Serves 2. Prep time, 5 minutes; cook time 12 minutes.

PS: Here's the baked eggs they served me in Paris. Whoa! So awesome....

Sweet Peppers, Oven Roasted

Take the time to make these roasted peppers. Super simple, delicious and versatile, these peppers can served as a side dish or in a salad. I served them on top  broiled salmon and quinoa.


Oven Roasted Sweet Peppers


  • 3 sweet peppers sliced into rings
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced into small pieces
  • Salt to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Pour the olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet
  3. Place the hot pepper rings onto the baking sheet, turning over on the pan to coat with the olive oil.
  4. Throw the garlic cloves into the pan.
  5. Sprinkle with coarse salt .
  6. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Check on them every five minutes or so to ensure that the peppers aren't browning too quickly. If they are, lower the heat to 400 degrees.
  7. Remove from oven and pour the rings and oil into a glass jar or bowl.

Excellent in egg dishes, pasta salads or mixed into a green salad with nuts and cheese.