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So Good, Worth Repeating: Turkey Thighs with Pumpkin Stuffing Under the Skin!

October 14, 2012 by Joan Nova in Poultry, Recipe Development, Stuffing, Worth Repeating | 10 Comments

As evidenced by the title, I’m digging into the archives of FOODalogue and reprinting some recipes I think are worth repeating (warts and all, i.e., even if I think I could take a better photo now .)
This being the season of turkeys and pumpkin, I thought readers might like to see this one again.Who likes the dark meat? Me, me, me!

I’m often asked how I come up with my recipes so occasionally I share the thought process that led me to the recipe presented. As regular readers know, I take great pleasure in the development phase of everything I cook — almost as much as I enjoy the eating phase. :)

In this case, I was working on another recipe that required about 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin puree. I saved the unused portion of pumpkin thinking I would make ravioli with wonton skins (I don’t do dough, said in a voice similar to Arnold Schwarzenegger)…but then I saw the turkey thighs when I was at the market and I knew immediately what I was going to do…a mini Thanksgiving with turkey, stuffing and pumpkin!

Next thought was…why not turn the pumpkin into a yummy, savory stuffing? And why not put it under the skin so it absorbs all the turkey juices/fat?

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday meal, but there’s always so much food. Even a bite of this and a bite of that winds up being belly-busting. It’s hard to appreciate And it always leaves me feeling unsatisfied (the next day) that I didn’t get enough turkey so it pleases me no end that turkey parts are readily available any time and we don’t have to wait till the third week in November!

Turkey Thighs -- with Pumpkin Stuffing under the skin!
The pumpkin works as a moistener and stuffing binder holding everything together.
  • 2 turkey thighs
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin
  • ½ cup whole wheat panko
  • ½ green onion minced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 dates minced
  • 6 almonds chopped
  • ¼ cup minced ham
  • 1 heaping tbs parmesan cheese
  • pinch of parsley minced
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • sage leaves
How To
  1. Blend all stuffing ingredients.
  2. Gently lift the skin from the meat, leaving one end intact.
  3. Take this opportunity to rub a little olive oil and season the meat.
  4. Pat down the stuffing directly on meat.
  5. Add sage leaf, pull skin over, rub oil and seasonings on skin.
  6. Cook covered in 325 degrees for about 30-45 minutes and then remove cover; continue roasting till thermometer registers correct internal temperature and skin crisps (place under broiler for a couple of minutes if necessary).
1. These thighs were plump and could easily serve 3-4 people. 2. I didn't de-bone the thighs before cooking, but it sure would have made it easier for presentation and sharing.

Loved, loved, loved the pumpkin stuffing!
It was creamy but not too much because of the panko…it was sweet and savory at the same time…and there was the occasional crunch from the almonds. It would a make an equally good accompaniment to a pork roast or stuffed in a pork chop too. I encourage you to try this one!

[Originally published September 2, 2011.]


NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!


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  1. Foodiewife says:

    I’ve never seen whole wheat panko crumbs, but would love to have some. I’d say this was a divine moment of inspiration for you. We cook turkey all year long. I love pumpkin, and hate stuffing. However, I think this version would seriously change my mind.

  2. I’ve never seen a recipe quite like this one, Joan, and face it, I have seen quite a few. How original and interesting, two words I have learned to use when I think of you. Terrific recipe. Thanks.
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  3. I never saw this and its interesting and knowing you delicioso…
    Platanos Mangoes & Me! recently posted..Green Plaintain Soup + Plantain Spiders – Sopa de Platanos Verdes con ArañitasMy Profile

  4. You know…? there are huge gaps in my cooking world…(?!) because I was born in Argentina, and the only other place where I have lived is France…so the turkey-pumpkin combo is a big mystery to me//I mean I can imagine how it tastes (delicious!!) but I have actually never eaten that. Neither French nor Argentineans eat turkey (well, there is the “chapon” here for Xmas) I have eaten pumpkin in puree, yes! of course. But…today I tried to make sth sweet with pumpkin (to get onto an “imported” Thanksgiving mood) and I don’t know if it is a masterpiece or I have to throw it away!! Why? Because I cannot judge what I have never eaten! How can I know if my cake is good if I have no idea of what it should be like? My daughters liked it but that is no parameter! They don’t have an idea either…Personally, I think my cake lacks personality..I read 3 million recipes but there is sth missing!
    Going back to the original topic, I’m so hungry looking at your turkey thighs..You were very creative there..The thought of the juices of turkey with the purée, as you say, got me completely!
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    • Joan says:

      Thank you Christina. Here in the U.S. the pumpkin is usually served as a dessert as in pumpkin pie, but it’s the season and we like to try it in savory dishes too. I’m sure whatever cake you made is tres bon!

  5. bellini says:

    This dish is definitely worth repeating.

  6. Oh gosh! I looked at your ingredients in the bowl – those gleaming almonds, pumpkin and ham in the bowl & nearly died. What an amazing stuffing and super way to cook up small turkey portions for dinner. Great!

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors
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  7. Lori Lynn says:

    This is brilliant Joan, especially when cooking for one, and wanting a holiday-style meal. Brava!

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