Thanksgiving Tamales – how to use leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner

We always have a lot of leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner. This year it was just the two of us, so we had even more than normal. We did get a smaller turkey (it was only 13lbs) but we made full sized dishes of everything else. One reason we made so much was for the leftovers. Our favorite thing to make with the leftovers are Thanksgiving Tamales.

For this recipe, you’ll need leftover cornbread stuffing, turkey, and fresh made turkey stock. Our cornbread stuffing has chorizo and peppers so it adds a nice flavor. Also, if you didn’t make any stock from your turkey, go ahead and use chicken stock. If you have leftover cranberry sauce, grab that too.

This recipe should make about 20 tamales, depending on the size of your corn husks and the thickness that you put the masa on the cornhusks. We used the Maseca tamale masa that you should be able to find in major super markets or from Amazon.

Making tamales is not complicated, but it helps to “see” it first so check out some youtube videos to help out. Here is how Pati Jinich makes hers as a point of reference

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Tamale Dough

Ingredients

  • 1 cup masa
  • 1 cup stock (turkey or chicken) or water
  • 1/3 cup lard or vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups leftover cornbread stuffing
  • 1/2 cup stock (turkey or chicken) or water

Instructions

Start by mixing the masa, 1 cup of stock, lard, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Mix this together until it’s a grainy paste. Once this is mixed well, mix in your stuffing. The extra half cup is for blending in the stuffing. You want the mixture to have a grainy paste texture again, so it will probably be too dry after you add your stuffing. Slowly add the extra 1/2 cup until you get back to that texture.

Tamale Recipe

Ingredients

  • tamale dough (from above)
  • 1.5 lbs turkey pulled into small pieces
  • 20 corn husks

Directions

Soak the corn husks in water for a few minutes, until they are soft and flexible. Then remove from water and drain them off. They don’t have to be completely dry.

Spread a thin layer of tamale dough on the corn husk over the top half of the husk.

Place a few pieces of turkey in the center of the husk. If you have leftover cranberry sauce, a thin line of this sauce is a nice treat to add to the tamale.

Fold one side of the husk over to the other side, where the tamale dough from each side come together. Push them together to make it firm, then fold the bottom part up over the seam. Then place the tamale into the steamer pot. We lay our pot on it’s side and place them in with the folded side down.

Once you’ve filled the husks with the dough and turkey, steam them over water for 2 hours. Check the water level regularly and replenish as needed. One tip is to put a penny in the bottom of the pan (in the water). If you hear the penny start to rattle, it’s time to add water.

Autumn Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Here is a bowl of all the chunks of the Fairytale Pumpkin. The great thing about these pumpkins is that there is a lot of flesh and not a lot of empty space inside the pumpkin.
Here is a bowl of all the chunks of the Fairytale Pumpkin. The great thing about these pumpkins is that there is a lot of flesh and not a lot of empty space inside the pumpkin.

Autumn is probably my favorite season. I love the seasonal flavors that start showing up on plates as we move from light summer fare to heartier savory foods. Pumpkins and other winter squash are some the best ways to celebrate this season. You can search for butternut squash on my blog and find a number of recipes. Last fall the supermarket put the huge heirloom pumpkins on sale for 4 for $1. We got $5 of them. You can do the math, but just know it was A LOT of pumpkin. This is the soup we kept coming back to last year.

https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/CDPH-Guidance-for-the-Prevention-of-COVID-19-Transmission-for-Gatherings-10-09.aspx
Autumn Pumpkin Soup

We used a large Fairytale Pumpkin for this recipe. This pumpkin can come in colors from dark green to orange and has a fairly thin skin. The flesh is firm but not fibrous like Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins. It’s also bright orange. Making the roasted pumpkin filling is very simple and because it’s so easy, I don’t know why you’d want to use a can of pumpkin if pumpkins are available. We put salt and pepper on the chunks of pumpkin before we roasted them, but if you want to use of them for sweet dishes, just roast them without any seasoning and you can use them as you need.


Ingredients

  • 1/2 stick (4 TBSP) of salted butter
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 6 cups of diced roasted pumpkin (not canned – we used Fairytale)
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne (optional and to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons Olive Oil or sour cream for topping
  • Optional:
    • Tabasco Sauce or your favorite hot sauce
    • Red pepper flakes

Instructions

These instructions are divided into two parts. The first part is for roasting the pumpkin. If you’re using canned pumpkin, skip down to the instructions for the soup here.


Roasted Pumpkin

For this recipe, we used about 1/2 of a large Fairytale Pumpkin. However, we cut up and roasted the whole pumpkin. We will freeze the pumpkin that isn’t used and use it later in either another soup or one of my favorites, pumpkin ravioli.

Heat oven to 400 F and put foil down on 2 large baking sheets.

Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. Keep the seeds for roasting them once the pumpkin is done in the oven.

Cut the pumpkin into 2 to 3 inch chunks, then toss them in a bowl with olive oil. Using our largest bowl, it took a couple bowls to get them all coated. Then we place them on baking sheets and lightly sprinkled salt and pepper on them. (Note: You can skip the salt and pepper if you want to use the roasted pumpkin for sweet dishes.)

Here are the pieces of pumpkin that have a light coating of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and are ready to be roasted.
Here are the pieces of pumpkin that have a light coating of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and are ready to be roasted.

Roast the pumpkins for about 45 minutes to an hour, until fork tender. We had large chunks and it took about 1 hour. Plus, we’re in Breckenridge, CO, and it usually takes food a little longer to cook up here at this altitude. We turned the pans every 20 minutes or so to make sure they heated evenly.

Here are the roasted pumpkin pieces after being roasted for about 1 hour.
Here are the roasted pumpkin pieces after being roasted for about 1 hour.

Let the pumpkins cool, then cut the skin away. Note that you can cut the skin away before roasting but some pumpkins are pretty tough when raw, so we’ve found it much easier to cut the skins away after roasting.

Here are the pumpkins after we skinned them. The small bowl on the left is the pumpkin that we cut into smaller pieces for the soup.
Here are the pumpkins after we skinned them. The small bowl on the left is the pumpkin that we cut into smaller pieces for the soup.

Cut the chunks down into 1 to 2 inch cubes.


Instructions for the soup

Melt the butter on medium heat, then add the onion and stir to coat onions. Cook the onions for 5 minutes. Then add the carrots, garlic, shallots, ginger. Continue sautéing these for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent and the vegetables are soft.

Here are the onion, carrots, ginger and garlic cooking.
Here are the onion, carrots, shallots, ginger and garlic cooking.

Add the chicken stock, pumpkin, cayenne, cumin, and nutmeg and stir thoroughly. We added little salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer the soup mixture for an hour.

Use an immersion blender to blend the soup mixture into a smooth consistency. If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a regular blender to blend the soup in small batches.

Taste the soup at this point. We added a little more salt and pepper and then 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and a couple splashes of Tabasco sauce. We like things on the hotter side, so just add it if you like the heat. We let our soup continue to simmer for another hour with the cover on it so it wouldn’t evaporate.

Serve the soup hot and top with either a splash of olive oil or sour cream. If you roasted the pumpkin seeds, sprinkle some of these onto the soup.

A picture of our Autumn Roasted Pumpkin Soup with a side of grilled bratwurst sausage.
Autumn Roasted Pumpkin Soup with a side of bratwurst sausage.

We made this soup for two grown men and there was a lot left over. We think this is a great thing! We’ll have soup again, but you can use this soup in other dishes. We’ll reduce the soup and then add it to some marinara for a pumpkin pasta sauce. You can also add 1/2 cup of this soup to Italian Wedding Soup to give it an autumnal flair.