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Guest Writer for The Genius Educator, Colleen Cavagna
Thanksgiving is in just a few days and for people who can’t partake of gluten, this can be a very frustrating holiday when eating at someone else’s home. Imagine having to ask if each dish contains any ingredient that has gluten? Not a lot of fun. If you are hosting a dinner with gluten-intolerant guests, it doesn’t have to be a big deal! Here are some easy changes that will make you the most sensitive host/hostess ever.
1 – Change your gravy from a wheat-based thickener to a starch-based one: think corn or tapioca. At my house, I use plain corn starch or Cornaby’s Thick Gel (gluten free) which is a type of corn starch that thickens quickly and makes a “very” thick sauce. Now everyone can have gravy on their potatoes and turkey!
2 –Make Your Own Stuffing… yum. If the bread you use is made from wheat (which includes spelt, farro, durum, semolina, bulgar, and kamut), barley, rye or triticale than your gluten free guests will not be able to enjoy this delicious part of the feast. Making your own gluten free bread for the stuffing is a possibility, but if you don’t have all of the gluten free grains and starches, then this could get costly. Instead, go to your local grocery store or bakery and ask for a loaf of gluten free bread. I buy my gluten free bread from Wegman’s in the bakery section. The brand I think makes the absolute most delicious stuffing is La Brea Bakery, Sliced Multi-Grain Artisan Sandwich Bread – Gluten Free. You can use your own recipe and substitute the gluten free bread or if you don’t have your own recipe, try this one.
Recipe for Gluten Free Stuffing:
La Brea Bread – Toasted or allowed to dry out overnight and cubed. (I toast it as I always forget to leave it out the night before).
Dried Spices – sage, thyme, salt, pepper, rosemary, parsley (for small batches add 1 tsp of sage and salt, ½ tsp of thyme, rosemary, and pepper – they are a more potent herb – and 2 tsp of parsley. Larger batches increase amount accordingly.
Chopped Vegetables: onions, celery
Chopped Fruit: apples
Chicken or turkey broth (2 – 2 ½ cups – increase if making large batches)
First chop onions and celery and fry with butter until soft (about 10 minutes). Add onions and celery to bowl of cubed gluten free bread. Add spices and chopped up apple bits – toss until all is coated evenly. Drizzle broth over everything.
At this point you can bake this separately in the oven until it is browned or stuff your turkey with this mixture. No gluten worries.
3 – Desserts – It is always the polite thing to include at least one dessert that is gluten free for your GF guests. Again, this doesn’t have to be a chore at all. Many bakeries have gluten-free pies, cakes, and everything you can make that isn’t gluten free. If you are pressed for time, call around and buy something premade.
If you live more remotely or where there are less GF options, making a pie that is gluten free is as simple as regular pie – just with a few different crust ingredients.
You will need to purchase an all-purpose gluten free flour blend from the store. I make my own, but this means buying multiple grains and starches and this just isn’t economical if you are doing this just for guests and won’t do it again for a while. In that situation, just buy a blended brand from the store. I like Steve’s GF All-Purpose flour. I must order it online as I can’t find it locally. Use what they have locally 😊
Xanthan gum is included in the recipe, don’t skip this ingredient. It binds the non-gluten grains and starches together (which is what gluten does) and is necessary. You can find this at your local grocery stores – it is usually in the baking section, however, some stores put it in the gluten-free section.
I found this recipe from Nicole on Gluten Free On a Shoestring
I was ecstatic to find a recipe that tastes as good as the regular pie crusts I was famous for at holiday gatherings!
Important Tips: If you haven’t made a pie crust with sour cream before, it will be much stickier – that is okay.
You MUST, I repeat MUST roll out the dough until it is very thin. You can’t make this pie crust as thick as a gluten pie crust or you will be disappointed. Make it very thin and you won’t be able to tell the difference.
Pie Crust Recipe from Nicole:
1 1/2 cups (210 g) all purpose gluten free flour
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (I use sea salt)
6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, roughly chopped and chilled
1/2 cup (120 g) sour cream (full fat, preferably), chilled
Ice water by the teaspoonful, as necessary
- Make the pie crust dough. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the chopped and chilled butter, and toss to coat it in the dry ingredients. Flatten each chunk of butter between your thumb and forefinger. Add the sour cream and mix to moisten the dry ingredients with the sour cream. The dough should be shaggy and somewhat crumbly. Knead the dough together with clean hands until it begins to come together. Add ice water by the teaspoon only if necessary, for the dough to hold together. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and press into a disk as you close the plastic wrap around the dough. It will still seem rough. Place the dough in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Grease a 9-inch metal pie plate generously and set aside.
- Smooth out the chilled dough. Once the dough has chilled, turn it out onto a lightly floured piece of unbleached parchment paper. Sprinkle the dough lightly with more flour and roll it out into a rectangle that is about 1 inch thick, moving the dough frequently and sprinkling it lightly with flour if it begins to stick. Fold the dough over on itself like you would a business letter. Sprinkle the dough again lightly with flour and roll out the dough once again into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Twice more, remove the top piece of parchment paper, sprinkle lightly with flour, and fold the dough over on itself like you would a business letter.
- Shape the dough in the pie plate. Roll out the dough into an approximately 12-inch round, about 3/8-inch thick. Roll the pie crust loosely onto the rolling pin and then unroll it over the prepared pie plate. Trim the roughest edges of the crust with kitchen shears. Lift up the edges of the pie crust gently to create slack in the crust and place the crust into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Tuck the excess pie crust under itself and crimp the edge gently all the way around the crust by pinching the dough at regular intervals with one hand, and creating a crimped impression with the forefinger of the other hand. Cover the pie crust with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to chill until firm, at least 30 minutes (and up to 3 days).
- Parbake the crust. Remove the pie crust from the refrigerator and unwrap and discard the plastic. Pierce the bottom of the pie crust all over with the tines of a fork. Place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the raw crust and cover the bottom of the crust with pie weights or dried beans. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the crust is lightly golden brown on the edges, about 10 minutes. Remove the pie weights and parchment and allow the crust to cool before proceeding with your recipe.
These three changes to your Thanksgiving Feast will make your gluten-free guests feel welcome and they will appreciate your efforts. You don’t have to tell them the only thing you had to do was change a few ingredients without hardly any extra work for you. Remember, vegetables and fruits are naturally gluten-free and including them is another way to give your GF guests a greater culinary selection. Bon Appetit!
About The Author
Colleen Cavagna is Horticultural Educator from New York State. She was diagnosed with Gluten Sensitivity in the Spring of 2018 and has since been learning how to adapt her own cooking to accommodate her sensitivity. She is a lover of gardening, literature and creativity. Her and her husband own a 200-acre beef cattle farm on which they enjoy raising chickens and their dog, Brutus.