“Hosting Thanksgiving dinner can be a complicated dance with dietary restrictions,” says Chef Jen Wanous. “In this post, we’ll figure out how to host a gluten-free Thanksgiving dinner so that you and your guests strike a savory samba, without too much stress.”
“It may seem daunting at first to make an all gluten-free Thanksgiving dinner, but let’s think about it. Really, all you have to worry about is the stuffing, gravy and pie. The turkey, cranberry, vegetable side dishes – even the mashed potatoes – are already gluten-free,” Chef Jen says.
- Keep it simple: Choose to make the whole meal gluten-free. That way you won’t have to worry about cross-contamination, and you’ll be making fewer dishes overall.
- Don’t skimp on the fat. You’re already taking out one comfort food, gluten; you don’t need to take out the other, butter.
- Store-bought rolls: Have store-bought rolls available to appease your guests who eat gluten.
- Be careful of hidden gluten ingredients. Gluten can be found in some sausages, gravy thickeners, bullion mixes and in cream of mushroom soup. Keep a keen eye when selecting dishes that may contain hidden gluten ingredients.
- Vegetable side dishes: Always start with high quality, fresh, organic vegetables. A simple side dish is olive oil, salt and rosemary roasted root vegetables (like carrots, yams, potatoes and beets).
- Be open to creating new family traditions. It may be hard for you or other family members to adjust to new recipes for such a traditional meal, but they will prove to be delicious in a whole new way.
Stuffing: Forego stuffing your turkey. Besides the bacteria risk of possibly undercooking your poultry, your bird will cook faster, and you’ll avoid any potential gluten cross-contamination. Bite the bullet and make your own stuffing. “I recommend making a gluten-free cornbread a couple days before and using that cornbread to make your own stuffing,” says Chef Jen. (See the recipe below.)
Gravy: Could there be anything more flavorful than roasted turkey drippings? It’s a great place to start! Add onion, carrots and celery to your roasting pan for an even more flavorful gravy. You can make your gravy just as you would before, only switch out the flour with an all-purpose gluten-free flour mix to thicken your gravy. Be careful when using a brined turkey – it can make for a gravy that is too salty. Be sure to taste your gravy as you go along, being careful not to add additional salt.
Pie: “In my family, the guests always brought dessert. We would end up with plenty of pie (enough for our tradition of pie for breakfast the morning after),” says Chef Jen. You can ask your guests to bring dessert too – this way there will be lots of options for everyone. Just make sure you have at least one that is gluten-free. You can make a gluten-free version of pumpkin pie by foregoing the crust altogether to make a personalized pumpkin flan in a ramekin. Or you can also make a nut crust to go with most any pie filling. For a basic nut crust add 2 cups of roasted nuts, a little sugar and some melted butter into a food processor. Press into a pie plate and add your desired filling.
Gluten-Free Corn Bread Stuffing
1 recipe gluten-free cornbread (below), cut into 1-inch cubes and dried out (about 5 cups)*
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 ribs of celery, sliced thin
1 tablespoon of poultry seasoning
1 cup chicken stock
2 eggs beaten
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 F. Melt butter over medium-low heat.
Add onion and celery.
Cook for 7 minutes, then add the poultry seasoning.
Cook for another 7 minutes or until celery is tender.
Remove from heat and place into a large bowl.
Add the cornbread to the bowl.
Add chicken stock and the eggs.
Gently mix with a rubber spatula, so you don’t tear up the cornbread too much.
You want the mixture to be wet but not soggy, add a little more chicken stock if needed. Gently turn the dressing into a baking dish.
Season the top with a few turns of the pepper mill.
Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
Uncover and bake another 30 minutes, until top is golden brown and crispy.
1 cup gluten-free flour mix (try Bob’s Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour)
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground flax
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted 1 tablespoon unsalted butter to grease pan
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Whisk together the flour blend, sugar, baking powder, flax and salt.
Use your fingers to cut the shortening into the flour mixture until it resembles the consistency of peas.
Stir in cornmeal. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, eggs and melted butter together.
Place the last tablespoon of butter in the hot baking dish to melt while you finish mixing the ingredients.
Add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until combined.
Pour the cornbread batter into a greased baking dish and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the top is golden brown and it tests clean with a toothpick.
Let cool before slicing.