Give your Thanksgiving stuffing a makeover, with one of our fantastic recipes – including the Ecuadorian relleno guayaco pictured here.

Countdown to Thanksgiving: 3 Latin-inspired stuffing recipes

For the next two weeks on NBC Latino, we want to inspire you to think about Thanksgiving a little differently. Whether’s its amping up mashed potatoes with some sazón or perfecting the mojo for succulent pavochón (coming soon!), we’re here to challenge you to add some Latin flair to your annual Thanksgiving feast. And that’s why we’ve decided to tackle the ever-so-humble stuffing. No offense to Stove Top, but there’s so much to be inspired by with this classic side of bread cubes, infused with stocks and piquant seasonings – whether or not you choose to stuff your bird or bake them up as a satisfying side.

RELATED: 3 decadent mashed potatoes with Latin twists

Take, for example, relleno guyaco. It’s an Ecuadorian stuffing that’s a meal within itself, made with tender shredded chicken and beef, succulent cured ham and sausage, thickened with salty Spanish olives and made sweet with the addition of prunes, brown sugar and raisins. It’s a sweet and salty, nearly pudding-like side dish that’s utterly unlike the stuffing whose recipe is found on the back of that iconic red box in supermarket aisles nationwide. And then there’s Chef Daisy Martinez’s cornbread longaniza stuffing. This Puerto Rican chef and cookbook author is an expert on Caribbean flavors; by using Spanish longaniza, Martinez gives a nod to the colonial Spain’s influence on island cuisine. Lastly, we’re showcasing a crispy, bacon-laced stuffing made from crispy, crushed tostones. Reminiscent of mofongo – a traditional Puerto Rican side dish that’s consumed throughout the year – it’s a stuffing that’s both rich and flavorful, thanks to the addition of garlic, cilantro parsley and fragrant cumin.

longaniza stuffing

Chef Daisy Martinez’s cornbread longaniza stuffing

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for the baking dish

1 cup grated peeled carrots

10 ounces longaniza sausage

One 16-ounce bag corn bread stuffing

1 large white onion (about 14 ounces), diced (about 2 1/2 cups)

2 1/2 cups homemade or store-bought chicken broth

5 stalks celery, trimmed and diced (about 2 cups)

Kosher or fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with olive oil and set it aside.

2. Poke the longaniza all over with a fork. Heat the 1 tablespoon oil in a very large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, turning once, until the sausage is well browned and no trace of pink remains in the center, about 8 minutes. Remove the sausage to a paper towel–lined plate and drain.

3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan and return the pan to medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened but not brown, about 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, cut the sausage into 1/4-inch slices. Stir the slices into the pan with the vegetables. Scrape the sausage mix into the prepared baking dish. Add the stuffing mix and toss with the sausage and vegetables. Drizzle the broth over everything, tossing as you do so. Season with salt and pepper to taste. The packaged stuffing can be salty; be careful.

5. Cover the baking dish with a sheet of parchment paper, then a sheet of aluminum foil, crimping the foil along the edges of the dish to seal it good and tight. The stuffing can be made to this point up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated. Bake for 30 minutes (about 35 minutes for refrigerated stuffing) and serve right from the dish.

IMG_8075Ecuadorian Relleno Guayaco

Chicken, beef and their stocks

2-2.5 lbs bone-in/skin-on chicken thighs

2-2.5 lbs beef for stew

6 cups water for chicken stock

6 cups water for beef stock

6-8 cloves of garlic, split between both stocks

1 small yellow onion, split between both stocks

6 bay leaves, split between both stocks

Salt and pepper to season the meats

Olive oil for searing the meats

For the stuffing:

2 loaves of white bread, edges removed, slices cubed

1-2 cups regular milk

Shredded chicken from above

Shredded beef from above

1 thick slice of country ham, diced

1 sausage link, cured or hard, diced (about 2 oz.)

2 cups of chicken stock, plus more if needed

2 cups of beef stock, plus more if needed

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1 cup yellow raisins

9 oz. prunes, chopped

1 cup Spanish olives, sliced

1/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark)

Salt to taste

Preparing the stocks:

1. Season the meats with salt and pepper.

2. In a large dutch oven, heat some oil on medium-high heat and sear the chicken thighs on both sides. Add the water, onion, garlic and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and simmer until the chicken is done and comes off the bones.

3. Repeat the same process with the beef.

4. Once the stocks are done, remove the meats from their respective stocks and reserve the meat stocks. Discard the onions, garlic and bay leaves.

5. Shred the chicken and beef and set aside.

Preparing the stuffing:

6. While the stocks cook, remove the edges of the loaves of bread. Cut the bread into cubes.

7. Place the cubes in a large bowl and add enough milk, about 1-2 cups to soak the bread. Let the bread rest.

8. In a separate dutch oven, heat some oil on medium heat and render the country ham and the sausage.

9.  Add about half of the shredded chicken and half of the shredded beef. Stir to coat.

10.  Add the soaked bread, milk included and stir to incorporate.

11.  Add 2 cups of the chicken stock and stir to combine. Constantly stirring, allow the mixture to absorb some of the stock.

12.  Add 2 cups of the beef stock and stir to combine. Constantly stirring, allow the mixture to absorb some of the stock. At this point, the mixture will have the consistency of porridge.

13.  Add the remaining shredded chicken and beef. Stir to combine.

14. Add the chopped walnuts, prunes, olives and raisins and stir once more. Taste for seasoning, and add a pinch of salt of necessary.

15.  Finally, add the brown sugar, stir to combine and cook until the sugar is melted. At this point, the mixture will be thicker, the liquids should be mostly absorbed and it will have the consistency of bread pudding.

16.  Serve warm as a side to turkey or ham.

mofongo stuffingMofongo Stuffing

6 Green plantains (you want really green ones with almost no sign of black)
Coconut or vegetable oil for frying
6 strips, thick-sliced slab bacon
3/4 cup sofrito (recipe follows)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup chicken broth, as needed
Kosher salt
Black pepper

For the sofrito:
1 medium yellow onion
1 red bell pepper
6 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 cup crushed or pureed tomatoes
1 teaspoon cumin
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro with stems
1 cup roughly chopped parsley with stems

Click here to get the full recipe from blogger Alejandra Ramos at Always Order Dessert.

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