With Thanksgiving just a mere 2 weeks away, we all need to start preparing for it. I have decided to split my Thanksgiving post in two. I want the stuffing to get as much attention as the whole meal. This stuffing was made while my mom visited shortly before Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. I was her “sous chef”. Anyway, Mom has made this relleno for decades to stuff turkeys in Thanksgiving and Christmas. The feast at both holidays is unending, but this stuffing holds a high place in my heart.
Stuffing of Legends…
I can eat it during any holiday and even make up ways to cook it and stuff anything I can. The stuffing by itself is delicious. If you like Latin cuisine, sit down cause it may be an experience. As you will see by the ingredients, we are mixing savory and sweet. I love this because it rounds up the flavor and you can have a after-taste that is not as beefy. At home, it is referred to as Relleno de Yuca and my mom is the expert. I have tasted mofongo stuffing. They can be pretty good as well as other stuffings like the highly advertised in continental United States. They all have their pros and cons, but my heart is set on this one. I hope once you try it, yours will be too.
A key to get this right is to keep enough liquid in the pan for the apples, raisins, bread and yucca to absorb the flavors. Hence, why I have added beef or chicken broth. As for many, including my husband, cooking and draining the ground beef is imperative before mixing it with anything else. I decided to add a note so it can work for these fellows too. This is where my Puerto Rican cooking has to compromise with his cooking style. You can either keep the fat or drain and add broth.
Careful with the Yucca
Worth mentioning to all, the memories of grinding the yucca when I was a kid are still quite powerful so you won’t find me at home using a grater… NO, I refuse to grate the yucca with it. My fingers are more important to me. It’s like when making pasteles, you use the grater and lose part of your fingertips in the process. So please trust me when I say, use something other than the grater, if you can. Yucca is a hard root and can be tricky with the grater. I have an attachment for my mixer, KitchenAid RVSA Slicer & Shredder Attachment, and it’s pretty handy with the veggies for pasteles and the yucca for this relleno.
I haven’t tried changing yucca for maduros, but I suspect it would be just sweeter. If you try it with ripe plantains, let me know how it goes. Also, this stuffing is very easy to make Whole30 compliant by removing the bread. Enjoy this relleno and feel free to add it to your holiday meals. I would love your feedback and comments. Happy Thanksgiving! ¡Feliz Acción de Gracias!
Mom’s Traditional Turkey Stuffing
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 bell peppers chopped
- 1 apple Honeycrips, chopped
- 4 slices white bread
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup pickled ham rinsed and chopped or ham steaks
- 3 slices bacon finely chopped
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup almonds crushed
- 1 egg boiled and chopped
- 1 yucca root large, peeled, grated
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 cup beef broth optional if dry
- 1 tsp all purpose adobo Goya All Purpose
- Prepare all the ingredients first as per notes above. The yucca root is hard to peel so be careful. Once peeled, you can use a grater or food grinder to grate the yucca root. I cut it in pieces first then use my KitchenAid mixer attachment to grind.
- Add bacon to large skillet, cook then remove and set aside. In a separate bowl, set the bread with the milk to soak for few minutes.
- Add the chopped pickled ham or ham steak to the skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes. Note: The pickled ham is rinsed because is saltier than the normal cooked ham I get in Puerto Rico.
- Add the onion and the peppers to the skillet and cook until onions are translucent. Season the ground beef with the adobo and add to the skillet. Cook the beef until most of the cooking liquid is gone. Note: If you prefer to cook the ground beef, drain the fat and then add to the skillet, I recommend adding few tablespoons of the beef broth so the skillet remains moist.
- Once the beef is cooked, add the chopped apples and cook for 1-2 mins. Repeat the process with the raisin, crushed almonds, bacon, boiled egg, and soaked bread.
- Once the above ingredients have been cooked for few minutes, add the grated yucca root and cook at medium to medium low until the yucca is cooked, which means it will change color to a yellowish hue. While the yucca is cooking cover the skillet and stir the content every 2-3 minutes until the yucca is fully cooked.
- Once everything is cooked, set aside and let it cool off before stuffing the turkey or your preferred bird. Note: You can do this stuffing a day prior of you needing it.