Every year, my friend Vince and I throw a big pre-Thanksgiving Friendsgiving. Vince is the turkey and potato master, and I handle sides, gravy, cranberry sauce and sometimes a dessert if I'm feeling ambitious. But we always share in the stuffing duties.
The word "stuffing" tends to spark some debate, so let me just address it and move on. No, I don't stuff the bird. Yes, it should be called "dressing" if it doesn't go in the bird. But that just sounds weird, and old fashioned, and quite frankly, who out there types in "dressing" when you're Googling up your Thanksgiving menu? Right? So. Moving on.
I volunteered to make a vegetarian stuffing this time, after years of relying on pancetta, bacon, and other forms of cured-pork crack to make my stuffing good. There are plenty of vegetarian stuffing recipes out there, and some must be able to compete, right?
Note to self. Read recipes. All the way through. So when it's time to make vegetarian Friendsgiving stuffing for 30, you don't realize that you've run out of every ingredient that will give that stuffing flavor. Like Worcestershire. And Tabasco. (And bacon).
I scrambled through my condiment shelf for something I could substitute, something that would be able to stand up to Vince's chorizo-packed pan of nirvana. And there, glowing by the faint bulb of my fridge, was miso paste. The answer to every vegetarian's meaty cravings.
Miso rarely makes it into holiday cooking, but now that it's in, I feel like I can open up to all sorts of non-traditional flavors. Next to some harissa-glazed carrots, Friendsgiving went global this year, and it's not turning back.
Vegetarian Miso Pecan Stuffing / Dressing
Yield: Serves 12
Prep Time: 15 min Cook Time: 35 min Total Time: 50 min
4 Tbs butter plus more for greasing pan
1 large onion, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup / 6 oz / 170 g pecans, chopped
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
10 sage leaves, chopped
2 Tbs white miso paste
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 loaf crusty bread, a day or two old, torn or cut into 3/4" cubes
2 cups / 475 mL chicken stock (low sodium)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 375F / 190C. Melt butter over medium heat in large skillet. Saute onions, celery, garlic and apples til softened, about 5 minutes. Add pecans, thyme, sage, miso paste and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute.
Place the bread cubes in a large bowl, and transfer the mixture from the skillet to the bowl. Season with a pinch of salt and a good grind of pepper. Stir well. Add half the broth and the eggs, then gently fold in the parsley.
Transfer the mixture to a large greased baking dish. Drizzle about half the remaining stock over dish. Bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, til the top begins to brown. Check that the stuffing is still moist in the center. Drizzle a bit more stock if too dry, baking a final 5 to 10 minutes.