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Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

Whole Foods Turkey.  Fresh is always better than frozen in my opinion

Happy Thanksgiving Canadians!  It was a beautiful sunny long weekend! hope you all had a good break.  For those of you in the States, I know you’re looking forward to your Thanksgiving weekend in the near future.  I wish you have a good one too.

I was thinking of making the traditional turkey with moist bread stuffing and I came to the conclusion that it was primarily my hangup about sticking with traditions that keeps me from experimenting with different stuffings.  Bread stuffing is absolutely my favourite part of the Thanksgiving meal (and the leftovers!)  After discovering that free range and/or organic turkeys simply taste better and more “turkey-ish”than butterballs and other generic frozen turkeys, our family hasn’t gone back.  We pre-order our turkey every Thanksgiving and Christmas so as not to be disappointed.

As you know, since being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease in 2011, I’ve been converting to a Gluten Free diet.  This has been pretty hard on me during parties and huge feasts where bread products take centre stage.  This year I was going to take the power back.  I decided to stuff my bird with glutinous rice (yah! I know! what a misnomer!) Sweet rice, aka glutinous rice has absolutely no gluten in it.  It’s the kind of rice that is used to make “sticky rice”, the dish you get at DimSum that’s usually wrapped in Lotus Leaves.  Without further ado, here is my day in Vine video clips and pics.  The recipe for the Gluten Free Sticky Rice stuffing is at the bottom of the post.  My recipe.  I made it up along the way, and I believe it’s pretty forgiving for modifications and add-ins.

Saturday night, I rinsed that fresh turkey and gave it a good cleaning.  I personally like to pull out any pin feathers that are still remaining in the skin at this point.

I prepared a brine of kosher salt, peppercorns, cloves and water in a clean IKEA bin.  This bin is only ever used for brining.  I don’t do anything else with it.  I store the whole shebang in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours (this is good done overnight).  The next morning, I drain everything from the turkey and then dry the bird with a paper towel and then place it in a rack sitting in the roasting pan (uncovered) and allow the bird to dry out in the refrigerator.  A dry skin is a crispy skin!

Along with the brining turkey, I begin my sticky rice stuffing.  I soak dried shitake mushrooms (fresh will do too) in hot water.  I allow this to sit on the counter overnight.

In general, I’m not crazy about dried shitake mushrooms.  I can take ’em or leave ’em.  They are very earthy and lend a smoky woodsy flavour to things.  I used 8 this time.  Next time I’m only going to put 4 shitake mushrooms in the sticky rice stuffing.


On Thanksgiving morning, I prepare the stuffing and cram as much in the body and neck cavity as I can.  The sticky rice stuffing is actually ready to eat after preparation and can be served separately in a casserole dish.  You don’t even have to stuff the bird with it at all.  However, imho what’s the point if I don’t stuff it and have the rice soak up all that turkey goodness?

Prepared sticky rice stuffing ready for cramming into the turkey cavity
The roasted turkey is a glistening golden colour and the crunchy sticky rice bits are yum!
Making the gravy. Turkey neck, carrots, onions and that package of turkey innards (which I always pull out at the end before blending the gravy for a smooth consistency) and all the drippings from the roasting pan.  Let me know if you need this GF recipe.  I’m just too lazy from the turkey meal to post it right now.
Mashed yellow-fleshed potatoes.  I use a ricer to make mine.  It’s so smooth!
Roasted butternut squash
Brussel sprouts and shallots with shitake.  Okay, I’ll admit I soaked too many mushrooms.  This is why they’re in this dish.  Truth be told, they were pretty good but I probably won’t add mushrooms again because no one seems to like shitake mushrooms in my house.
Soirette Macarons for dessert: Fleur de lis, Earl Grey Cassis, Apple Pie, Chai, Chocolate and Lavender. 

The best part of the entire day was the fact that my daughters were able to help me with the preparation of the meal.  Bebe, the 10 yo peeled potatoes and carrots, made tutti fruit jello for dessert and prepared lemonade.  Bib, the 6 yo, washed brussels sprouts, potatoes and carrots.  She was in charge of peeling the onions and was official gravy taster.  Both helped wash the dirty prep bowls and set the table too.

To top it all off, after dessert, both of them did a traditional Tea Ceremony for the family.  It was so cool.  They even counted the seconds for each infusion so the tea didn’t get bitter.

The best part of a turkey feast is the Turkey leftovers! The kiddies lunchbox next day:  Mommy and Baby Elephant shaped Turkey Sandwiches and persimmon chunks. Oyah… that’s one lonely seedless Celebration grape!

CAKEBRAIN’S GLUTEN FREE STICKY RICE STUFFING
4 cups sticky rice (also known as glutinous or sweet rice).  Glutinous rice doesn’t contain gluten!
8 dried Chinese shitake mushrooms (4 if you don’t like ’em so much)
4 Chinese sausage, diced
2 Tablespoons oil
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/3 cup Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
2 Tablespoons Gluten Free Soy Sauce (or tamari)
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons roasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
garnishes:  chopped scallions and/or chopped cilantro and/or fried shallots
optional add-ins:  1 cup roasted chestnuts; 1 can chopped water chestnuts, finely chopped carrots, celery or onion, chopped roasted duck, chopped cured Chinese meats

  1. The glutinous rice needs to be soaked overnight.  Do this at the same time you’re brining your turkey and soaking your dried mushrooms
  2. Soak rice in cold water in a bowl, with about an inch more than enough to cover.  Let stand on the counter overnight
  3. Soak mushrooms in another large bowl of warm water.  Let stand on the counter overnight.
  4. The next morning, rinse the soaked rice in a sieve and drain.
  5. Heat oil in a large heavy saucepan or stock pot (I used my ceremic-lined cast iron Le Creuset) and stir try garlic and ginger for several minutes.
  6. Add diced sausage, mushrooms, any other optional add-ins and continue to stir for a few minutes.
  7. Add rice, wine, broth and all seasoning and bring to a boil.  Keep stirring to the bottom of the pot  and you will find that indeed the rice is sticky.
  8. Lower heat to a simmer and cover the pot.  Allow the pot to steam, undisturbed for 20 minutes.  Do not open the lid to look at it!
  9. After cooking, you can eat the rice or use it to stuff the turkey.  
  10. Stuff and roast per your usual technique.  
  11. If you’re going to eat the stuffing without stuffing the turkey (why?) then stir to the bottom of the pot to fluff the rice and then put the lid back on for another 10 minutes to just sit.
  12. Fluff and serve sprinkling scallions, shallots, cilantro (unless you hate that sort of thing).  This goes very well with the gravy that I made.  yum. And it’s excellent as a leftover.

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