Pumpkin shows up on the Thanksgiving table in so many guises. But have you ever thought about using the seeds? Test Kitchen manager Noelle Carter did and used them to come up with this creative twist on turkey dressing that is so spectacular it was voted one of the best recipes of the year in 2008. Combine toasted pumpkinseeds, or pepitas, fragrant Spanish chorizo, chiles and corn bread and there will be no question as to why it is such a winner.
The dressing can either be baked inside the big bird or by itself, as described in this recipe. You can prepare the stuffing the day before, but do not put it in the turkey until just before roasting.
Pumpkinseed stuffing with chorizo
Total time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Servings: 6 to 8
Note: Pumpkinseed oil can be found at well-stocked supermarkets and gourmet cooking stores. Spanish chorizo can be found at select groceries. For a little extra heat, roast 2 to 4 jalapeños with the poblanos, then clean, stem, seed and chop them before adding to the stuffing.
10 cups cubed corn bread, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup pumpkinseed oil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups shelled pumpkinseeds
4 poblano chiles
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 pound Spanish chorizo, cut crosswise into 1/8-inch slices
1 1/2 cups corn, from about 2 medium corn cobs
2 onions, cut into ½-inch dice
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/3 cup dry white wine
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
2 to 3 cups chicken broth
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, gently toss the corn bread with 3 tablespoons pumpkinseed oil, the thyme, oregano, one-half teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper. Spread the cubes in a single layer on a large, foil-lined baking sheet and toast for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly golden, shaking the pan every 5 minutes for even coloring. Remove from heat and allow to cool, then place in a large bowl.
3. In a medium bowl, toss the pumpkinseeds with the remaining tablespoon pumpkinseed oil, one-fourth teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper. Place the seeds on a foil-lined sheet and toast until fragrant, puffed and lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Remove and cool, then add to the corn bread.
4. Meanwhile, roast the chiles on the stove top directly over a hot burner until charred on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove to a sealed paper bag to rest until cool enough to peel. Peel the charred skin (do not rinse under water as this will remove flavor). Halve the chiles lengthwise, stem and seed. Cut the halves crosswise into one-eighth-inch strips. Add to the corn bread.
5. Heat a large, heavy-bottom skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons butter and the olive oil, then the chorizo and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Remove the chorizo with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan, and add the chorizo to the stuffing mixture.
6. Stir the corn and onions into the pan and season with one-fourth teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn is crisp-tender and the onions have softened and are translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until it is aromatic, about 30 seconds. Stir in the white wine and cook, scraping any bits of flavoring from the pan, until the white wine has almost evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Cool slightly, then add to the stuffing mixture.
7. Gently toss in the cumin and Spanish paprika, and season the stuffing with one-fourth teaspoon salt, or to taste. Melt the remaining butter and drizzle over the stuffing. Drizzle 2 cups chicken broth over the stuffing and gently toss. Add additional broth as desired.
8. Place the stuffing in a buttered, 13-by-9-inch baking dish or casserole and place in the oven. Cover and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the cover and continue to bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is lightly toasted. Remove and serve.
Each of 8 servings: 772 calories; 25 grams protein; 49 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams fiber; 55 grams fat; 18 grams saturated fat; 89 mg cholesterol; 1,491 mg sodium.