Cranberry Stuffing with Apples, Mushrooms and Wild Rice will be the vegetarian hit of your holiday meal! The fresh cranberries really elevate this casserole into something special. This post was sponsored by Hurst’s Berry Farm, who sent me some fabulous Pacific Northwest cranberries to create a recipe with, and all opinions are my own.
I am so excited to finally be getting this cranberry stuffing to you! I had hoped to have it up before Thanksgiving, but the stars were just not aligned for me. Adding to the chaos is the fact that the surgery I had scheduled (that I had not yet told you about) for a Ganglion cyst on my wrist had to be postponed because I am sick, and life is just crazy. But aren’t the holidays always like that? I am up to my ears in cookie and candy recipes that I cannot make for fear of spreading my germs–although if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you know I have managed to get some stuff made–and you also know that my ravenous (for holiday treats!) family already devoured a lot of it!
Anyhoo, on to cranberries! Because I am super excited about this cranberry stuffing!
When the representative from Hurst’s Berry Farm first contacted me about creating an “out of the box” recipe with their cranberries, my mind instantly went to tamarind–and any cuisine that uses tamarind. Much like I used rhubarb in place of tamarind in my Beef and Mushroom Kheema with Rhubarb, I figured cranberries could act as a sub for tamarind–as a matter of fact, you could even use cranberries in that curry! (In case you are not following my logic, tamarind, much like cranberries, is inedibly sour “plain” but has loads of great flavor that comes through when sweetened or paired with sweet or savory ingredients.)
Because it is the holiday season, I also wanted a dish you could serve at one of your big holiday meals, like Thanksgiving or Christmas. Something a little more traditional (to an American) but with a twist. Cranberry stuffing just seemed the natural place to go, but this is a fantastic vegetarian casserole also. We ate it happily for dinner when I was testing recipes.
The cranberries from Hurst’s were fatter than what I usually see, and their flavor just pops in this dish! Their zing is complemented by the umami mushrooms and wild rice, the sweet apples and honey, and of course the salt you add. I got a few extra bags and am looking forward to making chutney and sugared cranberries with them. Cranberries are one of my favorite things about late autumn.
A note about the honey: my husband loved this cranberry stuffing as it was, with 3 tablespoons of honey and rather bland (that was an accident) apples. I wanted it a little sweeter. So this is really in the eye of the beholder. If you are not certain, my best advice is to make sure you are using really flavorful, sweet apples and use closer to 2 tablespoons of honey to start with. You can taste the stuffing before it goes into the oven and add more honey then if needed.
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 2 cups chicken stock (use vegetable stock to keep the dish vegetarian)
- 12 oz hard cider
- 1 cup wild rice
- 1/2 medium large onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup water
- 1 hefty pinch of salt
- 2 T ghee or 1 T oil and 1 T butter
- 1 T dark mustard seeds
- 1 1/2 T chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 1/2 t dried)
- 1 1/2 medium large onions, chopped
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 T minced ginger
- sea salt to taste
- 1 lb sliced crimini mushrooms
- 4 t small apples, chopped (I peeled them because they were older, but if fresh I don’ bother peeling)
- 1 12-oz bag of fresh cranberries
- 2-4 T honey, depending on your taste and depending on how sweet your apples are (start with lesser amount)
- 1 1/2 t ground coriander
- First, set up one pot of salted water on high heat. When it boils, add the basmati rice and cook until it is just tender--do not overcook! When it is just tender, drain and place a lid on the pot and set aside.
- While you are waiting for the rice water to boil, go ahead and get the wild rice started. Place the wild rice in a sauce pan and add the chicken stock, hard cider and 1 cup of water. Place the pan on high heat, and add the onions and garlic.
- When the wild rice comes to a boil, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle boil. Stir occasionally.
- While the 2 kinds of rice are cooking, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat with the ghee (or butter and oil). Add the mustard seeds and place a cover over the pan (any cover large enough will do--you just want to prevent the popping mustard seeds from escaping).
- When the mustard seeds stop popping, add the thyme and stir briefly. Then add the onion with a pinch of salt.
- Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes, until it is starting to caramelize at edges. Add the garlic and ginger and mix in.
- Cook for another 5 minutes. Now you are going to add the mushrooms in 3 additions, letting them cook down and brown a bit before each new addition. Be sure to add a pinch of salt with each addition of mushrooms as well.
- Remember to keep stirring the wild rice and do not let it boil over! Taste the wild rice--if it is chewy but not quite done, let it keep boiling. If it is done, turn off the heat. Either way, stir a hefty pinch of salt into it.
- Cook the mushroom-onion mixture until it is good and browned. This might take an additional 10 minutes. If it starts to scorch, add a splash of water.
- When everything has browned nicely, add the chopped apples with a pinch of salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring.
- Add the cranberries with a pinch of salt, and stir the honey and ground coriander in.
- At this point, test your wild rice again. Mine was done by now. If yours is not, do not panic, just turn the heat on the onions off, and let the wild rice keep cooking.
- When the wild rice is done, much of the liquid should have evaporated (this can be affected by environmental conditions though). If the liquid is more than an inch above the wild rice, add the drained wild rice with 1 cup of reserved cooking liquid to the onions and mushrooms. If the liquid is 1 inch or lower above the wild rice, just add all of it to the pan.
- Bring to a brisk simmer. You will hear the cranberries start to pop. Let it simmer for 3-4 minutes, while cranberries pop.
- Lightly grease a 9X13 casserole dish. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
- Mix the Basmati rice into the dish--if your pan is not big enough, transfer everything to a large bowl. Either way thoroughly mix it together. At this point snag a bite--if the sour is still too strong, stir in a tablespoon or two of honey. Also add some salt if you feel it needs it.
- Spread the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Cover with foil. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Serve hot.
For the collage lovers….