The holiday season is so close I can taste it. Literally. I have already starting practicing my dishes for the holidays!!
From now until Christmas, I’ll be sharing with you my family favorites – all with my twist to make them easier on the diet this season. Going through contest prep during the holidays is no easy task. I’m starting to realize more and more how disciplined I must be to make sure I stay on course. Nothing I can’t handle, however!
First up for my holiday favorites and just in time for Thanksgiving: Dressing. Or stuffing…the great debate.
The main reason I love the holidays is that each family has their own traditions. Mine, for example, calls that deliciously bready side dish served with turkey DRESSING, not stuffing. Why? Because stuffing is stuffed and cooked in the bird while dressing is cooked in a casserole outside of the turkey. Perfectly logical if you ask me. Whatever your family calls it, dressing or stuffing, there are hundreds of variations.
Because dressing is one of my favorite side dishes, I wanted to create a recipe I would have no problem eating this Thanksgiving while staying in line with my contest prep. Traditionally, dressing (or stuffing) is made with sausage. As tasty as it may be, it is extremely high in fat. I opted for ham – same animal, leaner cut of meat!
I also recently found my new favorite gluten free bread: Bread SRSLY. This stuff is AMAZING. Gluten free breads usually tastes like gluten free breads. Not this. No, this actually tastes like an amazing slice of sourdough. Instead of relying on the bread to be the bulk of the dressing (like normal) I cut back significantly on the bread and loaded up on other vegetables and the ham.
With sourdough and ham being the foundation of the dressing, now comes the other fillers. A must-have in my family’s dressing are water chestnuts. They add the perfect crunch! I used leeks instead of onions as I feel they bring a greater depth of flavor to the dish. Celery, fresh cranberries, rosemary and thyme round things out. Not only is this dish full of flavor, it is also beautiful and full of color!
Ham, Leek and Sourdough Dressing
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
- 1/2 lb. Gluten-free sourdough bread (or whichever you prefer - I recommend Bread SRSLY), cubed (about ½"), yields 4 cups
- 1 lb. country ham steak, cubed (about ½")
- 1-1/2 tbsp. butter
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 medium leeks, bulb and lower leaf portion, 2 cups thinly sliced and halved
- 2 cups celery, sliced
- 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1 can water chestnuts (5 oz. can)
- 1-1/2 cup fresh cranberries
- 1 cup chicken stock (see note 5 below)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Slice bread into ½" cubes, yielding about 4 cups of bread. Spread out evenly on a baking sheet and bake in oven for 10 minutes or until toasted.
- While bread is toasting, prepare the ham, leeks and celery. Slice the ham into ½" cubes like you did the bread. Slice the celery and leeks, setting aside. Remove bread from oven after it has toasted and set aside. Increase temperature to 375°F.
- In a large cast iron pot (or soup pot) sauté ham over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the outside starts to brown and caramelize. Remove and set aside.
- Melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic, celery, leeks, herbs, salt and pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until leeks soften and become slightly translucent. (This part smells SO flavorful!!). Turn stovetop heat off.
- Add drained water chestnuts, cranberries and ham back to the pot with the vegetables. Stir to mix evenly. Add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock, stir to incorporate, and then add the bread. If all liquid has soaked up, add remaining 1/2 cup of chicken stock. We don't want our mixture to become too wet - if liquid starts to pool at the bottom of the pot we've added too much! We want the mixture to be saturated but not swimming!
- Transfer to a casserole or baking dish. Cover dish with tin foil and bake at 375°F for 20 minutes covered. Remove tin foil after 20 minutes and continue baking for another 30 minutes uncovered. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.