November 19, 2012

Cran Mushroom Garbanzo Dressing

Thanksgiving has got to be my favorite "eating holiday".  Lots of hearty root vegetables, the variety of herbs, gravy, and fruity desserts.  There are so many different tastes going on...and I love them all!
Dressing Mix #2 in its pre-baked state.  Looks like it could benefit from
a bit of "flax egg" as a binder.

One of my favorite Turkey Day treats is stuffing, or "dressing" as our family calls it since we never once put it in the bird.  My mom used to make dressing every holiday until it fell off the menu.  I suspect it's because my Chinese mom never developed a taste for it.  Nevertheless when we were young, there would be boxes of dried breadcrumbs, stalks of celery, onion, and apples ready to be transformed.  She would make a huge batch and so we would always have a whole pan left over to my sheer delight.

For the past couple of years I have taken up the mantle of dressing maker.  For this Thanksgiving I wanted to see if it was possible to make a tasty grain-free alternative to traditional dressing.  How can dressing be made without breadcrumbs?  The answer may very well be beans.  Garbanzo beans, to be exact, which have a pretty mild flavor, so mild that I love using this kind of bean to make flourless blondie bars.

I had a newly discovered garbanzo (chickpea) stuffing recipe as a guide.  At the same time I referred to my standby bread-reliant recipe to get the right balance in flavors and texture.  My first batch came out a bit too mushy for my husband's taste and I was really turned off by the rosemary, which made the taste too bitter.  For my second go-around I used the full length of a 13"x9" rectangular pan, reduced the amount of broth from 1/2 cup to 1/4 cup ,and used 4 ounces of mushrooms instead of 8 to further reduce the liquid.  I stirred the dressing twice during the cooking process and ended up cooking the pan for 45 minutes, totally uncovered.  The resulting dressing was pretty tasty but now it was a bit too crumbly and dry!

My first attempt at dressing was a bit too moist.  Reducing broth and mushroom juice should help.

I wasn't able to give this a third try before posting (Thanksgiving in three days -- yikes!).  To try to achieve the perfect moist but top-crunchy texture, I recommend not stirring during the baking process and (as I added in the recipe directions below) tossing the dressing with 1 egg or "flax egg" that will help bind all the ingredients. 

Cran Mushroom Garbanzo Dressing
Adapted from J McDonald's Chickpea Stuffing recipe that appeared on AllRecipes Asia and from Stacy Polcyn's Awesome Sausage, Apple and Cranberry Stuffing

1 Tbsp cooking oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth
Two 15-oz cans of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 
1 1/4 cup peeled apple chunks (I used 1 large Fuji apple)
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tsp salt
Ground pepper to taste
1 "flax egg": 1 Tbsp ground flaxmeal mixed with 3 Tbsp warm water
  1. Heat cooking oil in a medium pan.  Cook garlic, onions, and celery over medium heat for about 4 minutes.  
  2. Add sliced mushrooms, sage, and thyme to the pan.  Cook an additional 2 minutes.
  3. Add in broth and cook for an additional 2 minutes.  Then turn off heat.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. In a separate bowl or deep dish, coarsely mash garbanzo beans.  In other words, don't worry about getting the beans completely mashed and smooth.  
  6. Drain and reserve some of the liquid from the vegetable mixture.  Combine mashed garbanzo beans with cooked vegetables/herbs.  Then stir in parsley, apple chunks, cranberries, and salt.
  7. Add flax/water mixture and stir until moistened.  Add ground pepper to taste.  Add some of the brothy/mushroomy liquid if the dressing is not holding together. 
  8. Spoon stuffing in a 13"x9" baking pan.  If it seems a little thin or loose, gently pack the dressing close together -- you may end up only using a 12"x8" space, for instance.  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes or until stuffing begins to turn golden brown on the top.
As I mentioned, I have not tried to add the flaxmeal/water step at the time of publishing this post.  It's a bit of a leap of faith but I think it will work.  Please let me know how yours turned out!

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