Bland accompaniments to roast chicken or turkey may have a long history in many families, but stuffing (or dressing) does not have to be boring! This recipe, inspired by Mexican cuisine, includes ingredients that give it plenty of textural interest: fluff from the cornbread, chewiness from the raisins, and crunch from the celery and jicama. Add the rustic flavors of chorizo, ancho chile, and the herb epazote (a pungent Latin American herb), and you have yourself an uncommonly interesting side.
- 1 large dried ancho chile
- 2 cups seasoned chicken or turkey broth (homemade or purchased)
- 1/2 pound Mexican chorizo (purchased or homemade)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup diced 1/2-inch cubes jicama or water chestnuts
- 1 cup diced white or yellow onion
- 1 cup diced celery
- 2/3 cup diced green, yellow, or orange pepper
- 1/2 cup raisins
- Optional: 2 tablespoons dried epazote
- 14 ounces (about 5 cups) seasoned dried cornbread crumbs
Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Remove and discard the stem from the ancho chile. Cut open the chile and remove and discard the seeds and large veins (or save seeds for another use). Tear the chile flesh into several pieces.
In a small saucepan, heat the chicken or turkey broth until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat, then add the chile pieces. Cover the saucepan and allow the chile to rehydrate for about 15 minutes.
Place a medium-to-large-sized skillet over medium heat. Squeeze the chorizo out of its casing into the skillet and use a wooden spoon to break up the chorizo. Allow it to fry for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chorizo is cooked and just starts to brown. Place the fried chorizo in a large bowl.
Increase the heat to medium-high and in the same skillet add the butter and allow it to melt. Pour in the diced jicama, onion, celery, and green or yellow pepper. Sauté the vegetables, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until crisp tender.
Pour sautéed veggies into the big bowl with the chorizo; use a rubber scraper to get all of the little pieces of vegetable and all the flavorful fat out of the skillet and into the bowl.
Remove the rehydrated chile pepper from the broth and chop. Pour the broth into the large bowl. Add the chopped ancho, the raisins, and the epazote (if using) to the bowl and mix well.
Add the cornbread crumbs to the mixture and stir gently just until combined.
For stuffing the bird: Spoon the mixture loosely into the cavity of the bird. (If not all the mixture fits inside the bird, spoon the excess into a small greased baking dish and bake as directed.) Roast the bird, then let it rest for about 20 minutes before removing stuffing and carving. Make sure the stuffing has reached an internal temperature of at least 160 F/70 C before consuming it to be sure that harmful bacteria have been eliminated.
To bake outside the bird (as “dressing”): Pour the mixture into a greased 9 x 12-inch (23 x 30-cm) baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes, until well heated through.
- This recipe does not mention salt because it is assumed that both the broth and the cornbread crumbs are already seasoned. It is a good idea to take a bite of the mixture before baking it, however, to make sure the flavor is satisfactory. Add some additional salt and/or a bit of poultry seasoning if you think it is needed.
- Save time and stress on the day of your celebration by preparing this stuffing a day in advance. Do everything else up until it is time to add the cornbread crumbs to the mixture.
- If made ahead and you are baking the dressing outside of the bird, add 10 minutes of cooking time to make up for the cold ingredients. If you plan to stuff the bird, heat the mixture thoroughly before spooning it into the bird cavity (to be sure that it will reach the necessary safe temperature).
- Refrigerated leftover cornbread stuffing is easily reheated in the microwave or in a very lightly-greased saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Stir lightly and frequently until heated through.
- In this recipe, the ancho chile (a variety of dried poblano pepper) is soaked and chopped. If you prefer, after soaking the pepper in the hot broth, you can process the chile and broth in a blender before adding to the mixture; this will more evenly infuse the stuffing with the spicy, rustic flavor of the pepper.
- Ancho chile can be substituted with a similar amount of any other deep red dried Mexican pepper that you have on hand (chipotle, morita, guajillo, pasilla, etc.), but keep in mind that the flavor and level of piquancy will be somewhat altered with any change.
- If you can find neither fresh nor dried epazote, omit it; the dish will still be delicious. Consider adding some chopped fresh parsley, instead.
- You can use a convenient boxed or bagged cornbread stuffing mix, or bake your own non-sweet Southern-style cornbread (from scratch or a mix), and then crumble it yourself for use in this recipe.
- Want to get extra fancy? Include a half cup of chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, or pine nuts in the mix. Be sure to toast the nuts first (on the stove top, in the oven, or in the microwave) to bring out their flavor and make them crunchy.