Roast Wild Turkey with Blue Cornmeal-Chorizo Stuffing
Chorizo and chilies add bite to a Southwest-style corn meal dressing created by celebrated Southwest chef Stephan Pyles. Note that home economists now recommend that you cook the dressing separately from the turkey to be certain the dressing reaches 165 F interior temperature, or actually take the temperature of the dressing (as well as the turkey meat) if you prefer to stuff the bird. If you choose to stuff the bird, stuff it very loosely, as this will help the heat reach all parts of the dressing quicker. Remove the dressing from the bird before chilling or freezing for storage after dinner.
- Turkey - one, 8- to 10-pound
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Oil - 3 tablespoons
- Chorizo Sausage - 1 pound, bulk
- Butter - 4 tablespoons
- Onions - 1 cup, chopped
- Celery - 1/4 cup, diced
- Carrots - 1/4 cup, diced
- Serrano Chilies - 4, seeded, deribbed, and finely minced (jalapenos may be substituted).
- Garlic Cloves - 6, peeled and minced
- Chayote Squash - 1/4 cup, chopped (optional)
- Bourbon - 1/4 cup
- Fresh Thyme - 1 teaspoon, minced, or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- Fresh Sage - 1 teaspoon, minced, or 1/8 teaspoon dried sage
- Fresh Cilantro - 1 tablespoon, chopped
- Blue Corn Bread (recipe follows) - 8 cups, coarsely crumbled (yellow corn bread may be substituted if necessary)
- Chicken Stock - 1/2 cup
- Salt to taste
- Melted butter
- Blue Corn Bread
- All Purpose Flour - 1 cup, unbleached
- Blue Cornmeal - 1-1/4 cups (yellow cornmeal may be used if necessary)
- Sugar - 2 tablespoons
- Salt - 1 teaspoon
- Baking Powder - 1 tablespoon
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons
- Serrano Chilies - 3, seeded, deribbed, and diced (jalapenos may be substituted)
- Red Bell Pepper - 1 medium, seeded, deribbed, and diced
- Green Bell Pepper - 1 medium, seeded, deribbed, and diced
- Garlic - 3 cloves
- Eggs - 2
- Shortening - 6 tablespoons, melted and cooled
- Butter - 6 tablespoons, melted and cooled
- Baking Soda - 1/8 teaspoon
- Buttermilk - 1 cup, at room temperature
- Cilantro - 3 tablespoons, chopped fresh
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Wash the turkey inside and out, sprinkle the cavity and the outside with salt and pepper, and set aside.
In a saute pan or skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and add the chorizo, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it browns. Saute until brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, place it in a large mixing bowl, and clean the pan.
In the cleaned pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat and add the onions, celery, carrots, chilies, garlic, and chayote. Saute for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are translucent and soft. Add the bourbon to the pan and boil for 3 minutes to reduce the liquid.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the thyme, sage, and cilantro. Pour the mixture into the bowl with the chorizo, add the corn bread crumbs and chicken stock, and toss to moisten the crumbs.
Place the stuffing in a deep oven-proof pan, cover, and place in the oven to cook for the last hour with the turkey. Or, if preferred, loosely stuff the turkey, placing any left-over stuffing in an oven-proof pan. Truss the turkey and place it on a rack in a large roasting pan. Rub generously with butter. Bake for 20 minutes per pound, basting frequently with melted butter.
When the turkey is completely cooked and the juices run clear, remove it from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving. Remove the pan with the dressing and serve hot.
Note: The stuffing can be prepared a day in advance and kept in the refrigerator until use. Bring it to room temperature before stuffing and/or cooking.
Serrano Chili-Blue Corn Bread
Makes 1 corn bread; 12 pieces
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch pan.
Sift together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Heat the butter in a medium sauté pan or skillet over medium heat and saute the chilies, red and green peppers, and garlic until translucent and soft, about 4 minutes. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs lightly and add the melted shortening and butter. Stir the baking soda into the buttermilk and add it to the mixture. Add the dry ingredients, stirring until the batter is just smooth; do not overmix. Fold the vegetable mixture and cilantro into the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
Note: The cornbread is best served straight from the oven; however, it may be made ahead and frozen when used for stuffing.