This year I nearly burst into tears when I realized there would be no GAPS-legal, gluten-free dressing I could eat at Thanksgiving dinner. But winter means chestnuts, and I was bound and determined to figure something out! I saw some chestnut stuffing recipes out there, but lots of them included bread. We’re totally grain-free and I don’t really like nut bread so I wanted something different. The grain-free recipes didn’t seem to have the texture I was looking for.
CHESTNUTS ARE NOT GAPS LEGAL – I read erroneous information and based my recipe off others who had said theirs was GAPS legal. Turns out they are too starchy!I set to experimenting and came up with something good. But then I made it the night before for Thanksgiving and was a disappointed with how it came out. I’d also experimented with leaving some of the chestnuts unprocessed, and didn’t like the way that worked. I tried again for Christmas, and finally struck the perfect balance between getting the prep work out of the way and having a delicious dressing with our meal!
All my measurements are approximate, I’m an improvisational cook:
2 lbs chestnuts
1 lb ground pork
3 cups chopped celery
2 medium granny smith apples
1 bunch sage
3 tsp salt (to taste)
2 tsp paprika (to taste)
2 whole cloves garlic
1/2-1 cup chicken stock
2 Tbsp fat (duck, chicken or pork fat or ghee)
Prep the Chestnuts
This is my favorite video on how to prep chestnuts because it shows good slicing technique:
I did mine a bit differently:
- Fill an 8 quart or larger pot about 3/4 of the way with water, and bring it to a boil.
- Turn off the heat, dump the chestnuts in, and cover. Let sit for about 2 hours.
- With a serrated knife, slice one line all the way across each chestnuts rounded side, and place on a baking sheet.
- Bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven, place all the chestnuts in a bowl so they will stay warm, and shell them.
- Process chestnuts in the food processor until they are evenly processed into 1/8 inch or less pieces
- Pour in 1/4 to 3/4 cup of chicken or other stock and a teaspoon or so of salt and continue processing. The chestnuts will turn almost pasty and start to ball up. You may want to stop before they are totally pasty, the texture will probably remind you of cornbread.
- Refrigerate if not using immediately.
Prep the Sausage
- Finely chop the sage, and combine in a medium bowl with 2 pressed (or finely minced) cloves of garlic, 2 tsp of salt and 2 tsp of paprika. Add the ground pork and mix together thoroughly. Fry up a spoonful of the sausage to check the seasoning and alter your mixture to taste. You want the sausage to be a bit on the heavily seasoned side, so it won’t disappear in the stuffing.
- Cook the sausage in a cast iron pan, making sure to leave chunks that are at least 1 inch in diameter. Do not overcook.
- Refrigerate if not using immediately.
Prep the Other Ingredients
- Chop the celery into 1/2 inch pieces
- Chop the onion into 1/4 – 1/2 inch pieces
- Peel and chop the apples into 1/2 – 3/4 inch pieces
- Refrigerate each ingredient in a separate container if not using immediately
When you are ready to make the dressing:
- Preheat over to 350 (We usually have a bird roasting so the oven is already going)
- Melt fat in a pan on medium
- Add onion and celery
- Add about 1/2 cup stock
- Cook until onions are translucent and starting to caramelize. Salt lightly.
- Combine all ingredients – chestnut mixture, cooked pork sausage, chopped apples, and celery mixture in a large bowl.
- Fill baking dish with the mixture. I used a 9×9 pan and had some mixture left over for a smaller dish. Leave at least 1/2 inch at the top of the dish.
- Bake uncovered for about 10-15 minutes. The top should start to get crispy. Turn the top into the mixture and return to oven. Repeat at least twice. Deeper dishes will need more stirring and cooking, so that it doesn’t end up soupy. The idea is to create texture throughout the dish.
- Remove from oven when the top is crispy again (about 45 minutes).
This is part of Monday Mania, Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Weekend Gourmet, Real Food Wednesdays, Friday Food Flicks on Traditional Foods, Momnivore’s Dilema’s Creative Juice, Allergy Friendly Fridays, Seasonal Inspriation, Full Plate Thursday, and Made From Scratch Monday, Grateful GAPS Holiday Foods!