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Stuffing Showdown: Vegan "Sausage" Stuffing

Welcome to the Stuffing Showdown of 2009.

From now 'til Thanksgiving, we'll be sharing various stuffing recipes -- all tested and taste-tested first-hand by Chow Bella contributors. On Thanksgiving Day, our "celebrity judge," New Times food critic Michele Laudig, will weigh in with her favorite of the lot.

First up: vegan stuffing.

Just because you're vegetarian or vegan doesn't mean you can't enjoy stuffing on Thanksgiving.

This vegan stuffing takes about an hour to make, including prep time. The veggie meat tastes just like real dead animal, and you won't be able to tell the veggie broth from chicken stock.

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This stuffing is a much healthier, animal product-free alternative to the traditional stuff.

12 pieces combination wheat and white bread
1 yellow onion
3 celery stalks
1 tsp. olive oil
2 pkgs. soy meat crumbles (we used Morning Star)
2 cups faux-chicken stock
1 packet poultry-seasoning herbs (fresh sage, rosemary, thyme, etc.)
Sprigs fresh thyme for garnish

• Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
• Tear the bread into bite-size pieces and spread on the cookie sheet. Bake until toasted. Transfer to a large bowl.
• In a food processor, chop the onion and celery.
• In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and sauté the onion and celery for 1 minute
• Add the meat to the pan, stirring often. Add 2 Tbsp. of the stock and let simmer for a few minutes, until the "meat" is slightly browned.
• Add the spices and cook for a couple of minutes.
• Pour over the breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly. Add enough of the remaining stock to dampen the bread. Spread into a 9- x 13-inch baking pan and place several sprigs of fresh thyme on top. Cover with foil and bake at 350°F for 15 minutes.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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