Puerto Rican Turkey Stuffing



Every year I post my Puerto Rican Thanksgiving Turkey recipe; or what I term the "Boricua" Turkey. To recap: a Boricua (boh-ree-kuah) is a native born Puerto Rican. However, these days it could mean anyone of Puerto Rican descent whether they were born on the island or not. That being said, I'm going to depart from tradition this time around. I always post the recipe, and it is delicious since we season it up the turkey so that it tastes like pork, which was at one time the traditional dish for the holidays---until the pork was supplanted by the turkey just like they do on the mainland. Our holiday bird is more flavorful than its North American counterpart. That's all well and good, but I've gotten complaints that I never post the stuffing, as it is noted in my cookbook. Puerto Rican Cuisine in America (Perseus Books - Running Press). So, here it is, our  family's traditional Puerto Rican stuffing for the Boricua turkey. Our recipe includes rum (to give it that Boricua taste). Note that the rum is boiled away in the cooking and only the flavor remains. One of the components that makes this stuffing unique.

RELLENO PARA PAVO
     (Turkey Stuffing)

2 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds lean ground beef or 1 1/2 pounds bulk pork sausage (for a spicier variation, Spanish chorizo can
   be used), coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 pound mushrooms, washed and chopped
1 medium apple, peeled and chopped
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Poultry seasoning to taste (optional)
1 cup seeded raisins, soaked in 1/2  cup warm water for 10 minutes
1 cup walnuts, chopped
8 cups bread crumbs
1/2 cup white Puerto Rican rum
1/2 cup chicken bouillon or broth

1. In a large skillet or kettle, heat olive oil and cook meat, stirring frequently until it loses its red color. If using sausage, it should be cooked until browned. Drain but reserve fat. 
2. Add onions, mushrooms and apple. Season to taste with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning (if using), and sauté until apples are slightly softened. It may be necessary to add some of the reserve fat to keep mixture from sticking. Add drained raisins, walnuts and bread crumbs. Cook for about 3 minutes. Stir in white rum, chicken bouillon or broth and sauté for about 5 minutes more.
3. Remove from heat. When cool, stuff turkey about three-quarters full, and follow roasting instructions.
    Yield: about 10 cups.

Note: Any extra stuffing can be placed in a covered glass casserole and baked along with the turkey for the last 45 minutes of cooking. Or it can be saved for later use and heated up with the leftovers. (I recommend baking at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes).

Picture: courtesy of Fashion Belief 
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