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 one, 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, and you have yourself an uncommonly interesting side.
Don´t forget to check out the notes about variations on the ingredients below the recipe as well to tailor it to your preference!
- 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 butter
- 1 cup jicama (diced cubes of about ½ inch, can substitute water chestnuts)
- 1 cup white or yellow onion (diced)
- 1 cup celery (diced)
- 2/3 cup green, yellow, or orange pepper (diced)
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 2 tablespoons dried epazote (optional)
- 14 ounces (about 5 cups) seasoned dried cornbread crumbs*
- Preheat your oven to 350F.
- 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. 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 into a large bowl. In the same skillet, now over medium-high heat, 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. Pour the broth into the large bowl, and chop the chile. 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 chicken, turkey, or goose. Roast the bird, then let it rest for about 20 minutes before removing stuffing and carving bird. Make sure the stuffing has reached an internal temperature of at least 160F / 70C before consuming it to be sure that harmful bacteria have been eliminated.
Note: If not all the mixture fits inside the bird, spoon the excess into a small greased baking dish and bake as indicated below.
To bake outside the bird (as “dressing”): Pour the mixture into a greased 9x12-inch (23x30 cm) baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes, until well heated throughout.
Tips and Notes on Ingredients
- *Use a convenient boxed or bagged cornbread stuffing mix, or bake your own non-sweet Southern-style cornbread (from scratch or a mix), then crumble it yourself for use in this recipe.
Seasoning: This recipe does not mention any salt because we are assuming that both the broth and the cornbread crumbs are already seasoned. It is a good idea to test 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.
An ancho chile is a variety of dried poblano pepper. We soak and chop it in this recipe. If you prefer, after soaking the pepper in the hot broth, 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, as an herby ingredient.
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.
Save time and rushing around on the day of your celebration by preparing this stuffing a day in advance. Do everything through step number 5, then refrigerate. Add cornbread crumbs to the mixture just before baking. If you are making dressing apart from the bird, add 10 minutes to baking time to make up for the cold ingredients. If you are plan to actually stuff the bird, heat the mixture thoroughly before spooning into 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.