Mmmm… stuffing. Some people seem to go bugnutty over stuffing this time of year. I think Stove Top has addressed this issue properly in their holiday 2013 spots – hilarious. I remember just such “wars” breaking out at Thanksgiving when I was a kid. My family was divided – some preferred Stove Top, some Pepperidge Farms, and some my grandmother’s oyster dressing made with wild rice (which, to be fair, was always served alongside stuffing – and was gross).
Me? I’ve never been too crazy about stuffing. Or dressing, for that matter. I loved bread as much as the next kid – but dressing, not so much. And stuffing in the bird always freaked me right out. About the only part of the whole stuffing/dressing issue I dug were the two bites of almost burnt, butter-drenched bites on the top (or bottom – depends on who was doing the scooping) of the bowl (but only if it had a lot of celery) and that’s about it. Mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and that infernal canned cranberry jelly were really where it was always at for me. Don’t get me started on cranberry sauce vs. cranberry jelly. I realize the stuff in the can is possibly radioactive and only maybe once met a cranberry somewhere way back in its past – but yum. Gelatinous tart and sweet tastiness. “Fancy” cranberry sauce is just wrong.
Enter adulthood, and my own Turkey Day traditions – and nary a stuffing or dressing in sight. I still do a green bean, usually some sort of gravy (sadly, not my grandmother’s giblet gravy – that recipe I don’t have and can’t find), a bevy of potatoes, and generally some sort of decadent pork dish at the center.
This paleo-ified and gluten-free stuffing would make the perfect holiday get-together side – and makes a darn tasty dinner in and of itself. Plus, any leftovers can be transformed into a luxurious lunch with the addition of — wait for it — you’ll never guess — an egg.
Bread-Free Pork & Sweet Potato Stuffing
1 pound ground pork
4 ribs celery
1/4 c. chopped pecan bits
1 Tbsp. fresh picked thyme
5 small cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. granulated garlic
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 Tbsp. unsalted grass-fed butter (Kerrygold)
2 small sweet potatoes (about 2 cups when diced)
Kosher salt & cracked black pepper
Heat the coconut oil in a large pan over medium – medium-high heat. Add the pork and start breaking up with a spatula. Sautee until deeply browned, mashing and stirring frequently to break up into as tiny pieces as possible and avoid over-browning.
While that is working, peel and petite dice the sweet potatoes. Chop the celery and garlic. Pick the thyme and chop.
When the pork is done, remove to a paper towel lined bowl to hang out for awhile (keep the fat in the pan to use for the veggies).
Add the potatoes, celery & garlic to the pan. If there is less than a Tablespoon or so of fat in the pan, add a little coconut oil. Add the onion powder, thyme, a few pinches salt and a few cracks of black pepper. Sautee the veggies, stirring frequently and turning the heat down to medium if necessary until the celery is beginning to soften and the potatoes have gone soft and golden in spots. This should take 5-10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
While the potatoes are cooking, heat a smallish pan over medium heat and add the butter. Add the pecans and cook until beginning to brown.
To serve, mix all components – the reserved browned pork niblets, potato mixture and pecans and chow down.
Makes enough to feed 2 for dinner as a main dish + 1 for lunch bolstered with a couple of eggs. If you want to serve a whole gathering, scale up – keeping the ratio of thyme-heaviness, celery and onion powder appropriate to your amount of sweet potatoes.