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A Thanksgiving Dressing Recipe For Your Inner Dinner Diva

A package of fresh chorizo will make a girl do wild things.

It might just prompt her to create a slightly offbeat Thanksgiving side dish.

There's nothing wrong with Thanksgiving as it stands. The turkey, the stuffing, the cranberry sauce, the pumpkin pie.

But do you ever feel, in the part of your soul that loves spice and surprise, that Thanksgiving is a little...bland?

Not that bland is always bad. I mean, when you're sick you want unadulterated chicken soup. When you're upset, you probably want some generic flavor of ice cream (namely, chocolate).

But doesn't it seem to you that holidays require something a little more festive? Or that they should require something a little more festive?

Do you ever find yourself sneaking red pepper flake into the classic Thanksgiving turkey? Or maybe a jalapeño into the stuffing? It might be because you know that once everything on your plate is swimming in gravy, the food items will be nearly indistinguishable.

I felt this tug as well, but I had a package of fresh chorizo in the fridge that urged me onwards and made me do things that any self-respecting turkey might well find horrifying.

Thus, I give you Chorizo Dressing.

This dressing is not for the turkey that is faint of heart. However, if your turkey has a little spirit, this may be the dressing for you. Think Turkey Molé or even just turkey rubbed with cumin, coriander, and ground ancho chiles. The point is, you need a turkey (or other main dish) that will stand up to the unruly flavors of this dressing.

A little dressing council: you'll notice that I call this a "dressing" not a "stuffing." This is because we at the Joy Kitchen do not recommend stuffing the turkey. Too often, in order to cook the stuffing to the correct temperature (165°F), you must overcook your turkey. Or, you must take the turkey out of the oven, remove the stuffing from the cavity, and cook the stuffing longer in a separate dish. Or you can pre-cook the stuffing a little, stuff it into the turkey, and then cook the turkey.

Honestly, I prefer to just cook the stuffing separately. It's less of a hassle. If you must stuff the turkey for the sake of holiday aesthetics, do so after both have cooked separately. In any case, if you decide to disregard everything I say (I'm sure many will), simply omit the eggs in the stuffing and make sure any meat in the stuffing is fully cooked before stuffing the bird.

By "fresh" chorizo, I mean the highly perishable kind as opposed to hard, cured chorizo. Fresh chorizo is usually Mexican, while cured chorizo is Spanish. Both are delicious, but fresh chorizo can be crumbled and must be cooked before eating. I'm sure you could make a lovely dressing with Spanish chorizo, but be aware that one cannot be simply substituted for the other.

Other articles you might enjoy: Cornbread Dressing with Oysters, Wild Rice Dressing with Leeks, Mushrooms, and Candied Pecans, Duxelles Gravy

Chorizo Dressing
Serves 12 to 14

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13" baking dish and set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook, stirring frequently, until cooked through and beginning to brown:
            1 pound fresh chorizo, crumbled
Remove the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon. Set aside. Drain off all but two tablespoons of the fat from the skillet and add:
            1 medium onion, finely chopped
            1 large carrot, finely chopped
            1 celery stalk, finely chopped
            2 large poblano peppers, finely chopped
Stir frequently until the onions become translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add:
            4 cloves garlic, minced
Cook, stirring, until the garlic is highly fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. In a large bowl, combine the cooked sausage and vegetables with:
            6 cups stale bread cubes
            3/4 teaspoon salt
Taste the sausage for flavor. Depending upon how highly-seasoned your chorizo is, you may not need to add any spices. I decided to really go for the jugular and added:
            (1 teaspoon ground cumin)
            (1 teaspoon ground coriander)
            (1 teaspoon dried oregano)
Regardless of seasoning, add and stir to combine:
            3 large eggs, well beaten
            1/2 to 1 cup chicken stock (use the higher amount for more moist dressing)
Bake (covered with foil if you desire a moist dressing) until the internal temperature of the dressing reaches 165°F, about 40 minutes. 

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Note: I made this batter and used it over the course of two days. The second day, the vegetables had released more moisture. I was able to fry it without adding more flour, but you may find...