I have a confession to make.
I don’t like stuffing.
I know, it’s like a Thanksgiving heresy.
But often, stuffing is gummy and tastes strongly of celery and salt and the texture just gets to me. The boxed stuff is especially heinous.
I don’t begrudge others their love of stuffing. I just generally take a polite amount and keep it passing. But the thought of wild rice stuffing? That’s a stuffing I might be able to get behind.
Wild rice is a very Minnesotan thing. And one of my favorite foods of all time.
Not all wild rice stuffing recipes have bread in them, but I thought it could be interesting. I like the differing textures, and the addition of bread keeps it reminiscent of traditional stuffing. I used a Tuscan bread, but any dense, crusty bread will do. I chose this type over regular sandwich bread because I wanted it to hold up to the liquid without becoming complete mush. Cube 10 slices bread into 1/2 inch cubes.
Place it on 2 rimmed baking sheets and bake for 20 minutes at 325° Make sure to switch the pans from top to bottom halfway through so they cook evenly. At the 10-minute mark, I also stirred them up a little. Take them out when they start to turn golden and are dry. Allow them to cool.
Meanwhile, cook your wild rice. Bring 2 cups water, 2 cups chicken broth, and a bay leaf to a boil. Add 2 cups wild rice and reduce heat to low; cover. Simmer for 45-50 minutes or until rice has cracked & is tender. I could have cooked mine a few more minutes as I found the occasional hard grain.
When the rice is finished, drain in a sieve over a measuring cup. Reserve 1 1/2 cups liquid for later use. Place rice in a large bowl.
Now you’ll need your vegetables. Mushrooms, diced. About 1 cup. 2 ribs celery, chopped fine. I don’t really like celery much, so I cut it up small just to get some of the flavor mixed in.
You’ll also need 1 large onion, chopped, 4 cloves garlic, minced, and 3 green onions, sliced thin.
I opted for fresh herbs, since the snow hasn’t killed off my thyme & sage. I used 1 tablespoon of each, chopped. You can use dried, too. Just use 1 1/2 tsp instead.
Melt half a stick of butter in a skillet. You’ll need the other half later. We don’t skimp on butter around the holidays, friends.
Once melted, add in your onion. Cook until it begins to get translucent.
Then add the mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes until they start to brown.
Then add the garlic & herbs. Cook for another 3-4 minutes.
Deglaze the pan with the reserved liquid from before. Then turn off the heat.
Toast some pecans in a pan over high heat. You’ll want about a cup or cup & a half once chopped. Shake the pan around occasionally while toasting, and don’t walk away. It’s easy to burn these babies. You just want to heat them until they start to smell delicious.
Into the bowl with the wild rice, add the toasted bread, the celery, green onions, chopped pecans and about 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries.
I didn’t cook the celery because the one thing I do like about celery is the crunch. And I thought it would add another dimension of texture if it wasn’t cooked to smithereens.
People need to say “smithereens” more often in daily conversation.
Add the cooked vegetables and 3/4 cup heavy cream
Mix it up. Place it in a lightly greased 9×13 pan or large casserole dish.
Melt the other half stick butter and pour it over the top. Cover with foil and bake at 350° for 45 minutes.
When it comes out, the bread will have soaked up the liquid, but won’t have become soggy– only flavorful.
And all the delightful textures and flavors meld together, yet stay distinct.
If you’re looking for a new spin on a classic, try this on for size. It works for me!
Wild Rice Stuffing
10 slices crusty bread
2 cups water
2 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 cups wild rice
1 cup diced mushrooms
2 ribs celery, chopped fine
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, sliced thin
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh sage (or 1 1/2 tsp dried)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1 1/2 tsp dried)
1 stick butter, divided
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
3/4 cup heavy cream
Cube bread into 1/2 inch cubes. Place on 2 rimmed baking sheets and bake 20 minutes at 325°, rotating pans and stirring halfway through.
Bring water and chicken broth to boil in a medium saucepan with bay leaf. Add wild rice and simmer 45-50 minutes or until rice is cracked and tender. Drain rice in a sieve over a measuring cup. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of liquid for use later. Place rice in large bowl.
Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a large saucepan. Add onion and cook until translucent. Then add mushrooms and cook 4-5 minute until they start to brown. Add garlic & herbs and cook another 3-4 minute. Deglaze pan with reserved liquid from the rice. Turn off heat.
In another pan, toast some pecans over high heat until fragrant. Add pecans, bread, celery, green onions, cranberries, cooked vegetables, and heavy cream to the bowl with the wild rice. Mix well.
Place mixture into a lightly greased 9×13 pan or large casserole dish. Melt remaining butter and pour over the top.
Cover with foil and bake at 350° for 45 minutes.