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Holiday Stuffing or Dressing

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 18 July 2012 at 15:09
For the holidays (usually Thanksgiving and Christmas, sometimes also New Year's and Easter), we roast a turkey with all the trimmings; one of those trimmings, of course, is stuffing/dressing.
 
In our house, dressing and stuffing are essentially the same thing - the only real difference is where it is cooked: it's called stuffing when it is cooked in the bird; it's called dressing when it's cooked in a casserole. Stuffing, like mashed potatoes, is one of those things where it never seems that enough has been made. My advice to anyone is to always make at least half again as much as you think you will need; twice as much is better. If nothing else, it makes fine leftovers, right?
 
There are scores of ways to make sutffing - here's the basic, base-line way that we do it. It's very open to variation, and we often add herbs, spices or other minor ingredients depending on the mood at the time.
 
As always, I'll start with a shot of the goods:
 
 
Here we have two boxes of bread crumbs, which come with seasoning packets that are totally inadequate, in my opinion. The rest of the ingredients are pretty self-explanatory: onions, garlic, celery, chicken broth and butter. Along with salt and pepper, this is all you really need, but we also like to add some poultry-friendly herbs, as well.
 
Stuffing isn't very complicated to make - simply chop your aromatics:
 
 
Celery is a rather recent addition to our stuffing. Neither the beautiful Mrs. Tas nor I are very fond of celery when it is raw, or in large chunks in food; however, I really love the aroma and depth of flavour that cooked celery provides to a dish when it is very finely-chopped and hence not texturally present in a dish. When it comes to the onions, on the other hand, we generally dice them on the large side, at least when they are to be cooked. Your preferences may vary.
 
When it comes to holiday cooking, Mrs. Tas is an absolute butter fiend, and that is no joke. It's heavily dotted all over the turkey, it's in big chunks in the sweet potatoes/yams - and I won't even mention the mashed poatoes. Also, of course, it's in the stuffing. In this case, she melted two sticks of butter in the saute pan and started cooking the aromatics:
 
 
Personally, I think it's about twice as much as is actually needed, if not more - but over the years I've learned not to interfere. Then again, there are definitely a lot of bread crumbs to absorb the butter, and the food always comes out tasting great, so who am I to complain?
 
Anyway, when the aromatics have cooked down:
 
 
They are added to the bread crumbs:
 
 
And the chicken broth (or stock, of course) is introduced to the party:
 
 
Stir everything around to mix the ingredients and the flavours, and the bread crumbs are good and moist:
 
 
When it comes to the chicken broth, Mrs. Tas usually adds quite a bit, to be absorbed by the bread crumbs. At first, it always seems like it's going to be too moist, but usually, it comes out fine after it's in the oven. It certainly helps keep the turkey moist, so once again, I do not interfere. Your mileage here may vary, and you can add as much as you prefer. The main thing is to moisten the bread crumbs:
 
 
I prefer my stuffing a little drier, but that preference is not so deeply-felt that I'm willing to spend a holiday alone, so I adhere to my non-interference policy.
 
It is at this point that we taste it and adjust for seasoning - adding herbs or spices as necessary - then it's into the bird and into the oven. It's good advice to pack it in the cavity loosely and not completely full, because the stuffing expands while cooking, as you can see here:
 
 
Even when it blows out of the bird, who cares? It looks and tastes great, as far as I am concerned, and is usually my favourite part of the stuffing,, taking on a nice, savory flavour from the exposure to the roasting in the oven.
 
As I said above, you should always make a lot more than you think you will need. It won't all fit into the turkey, of course, but that's no big deal - simply bake it in a casserole:
 
 
Anyway, that's how we do it. We've tried different recipes, some more elaborate than others, but this seems to work best for us.
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pitrow View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 July 2012 at 15:17
Much as I hate to admit it, I usually just buy a box of premade stuff like stove-top. One of these days I'll get around to making my own dressing.

And I'm with you Ron, on the drier stuffing. I like mine more on the dry side, which is why I usually like it outside the bird. Seems like every time it's done in the bird it comes out more wet, almost like bread pudding.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 July 2012 at 05:23
Much as I hate to admit it,......
 
This implies, Mike, that there's something wrong with that. But the fact is, convenience products are not something you use in the dark of night behind closed doors. If it works for you, then go for it. Especially during the holidays when there are so many other draws on our cooking time.
 
And the fact is, other than the manufacturer's choice of seasoning, all bread stuffings (home made or store bought) are just little cubes of stale bread.
 
FWIW: I am not advocating this position, but virtually all food science organizations recommend against putting dressing in the bird. There are both potential health and quality issues doing so.
 
Everyone I know loves the crispy part that tops dressing cooked separately. So we've gotten into the habit of making "stuffin' muffins." For these, bake the dressing in muffin tins, which provides individual servings. And everyone gets some of the crispy part.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 July 2012 at 10:07
There's definitely something to be said for convenience, which I suppose is why I use the boxed stuff. However, I do find that most things that are "quick and convenient" tend to taste much worse than "home made" stuff, or be worse for you health-wise, and often times both.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 July 2012 at 10:37
For as far back as I can remember, my families stuffing/dressing always had the livers, gizzards and neck meat included. These were boiled, along with any other vegetables in liquid that would be added to the dry stuff before cooking in the oven. Will try the muffin idea.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 July 2012 at 10:41
the muffin idea sounds great, and defintiely a good way to maximise the best part of the stuffing.
 
giblets in stuffing (or anything else) is not for me, those parts go to the cats or dog - but a lot of people like them.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MTMan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 July 2012 at 21:24
Ron, This is the exact stuffing I make, except, I put the veggies in raw and I will add sliced mushrooms.
In the old days my mom would save all the bread ends and put them in a large brown paper sack to dry on turkey day she would crumble the bread add veggies, spices and turkey stock and it would turn out just wonderful. Thank God for Mrs. Cubbisons!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 July 2012 at 05:06
the muffin idea sounds great
 
I first heard of this from, believe it or not, Rachael Ray, and thought it one of the few really creative concepts she'd come up with.
 
Then I did a web search. Turns out there are dozens of hits under the name "stuffin' muffin," most of which predate Ray's use.
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Karl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 July 2012 at 08:33
I usually get to roast the turkey for holiday dinners.

Stuffing is easy, I just melt too much butter to be healthy in a Dutch oven, add a chopped onion and cook until translucent, add a lot of sliced mushrooms, sometimes a cup of shredded carrots (I like this but not everyone else does), usually little or no celery or just the tops, then set this off the burner to cool a little.  Add sage, course pepper, salt, and other spices.  Sometimes I cook and chop the gizzards or at least the liver and heart to add but not everyone likes these.  I have never added broth. 

I hand "cube" about a loaf or loaf and a half of sourdough bread (about 9 cups).  I mix the bread and vegetables by hand until not quite evenly moist.  I try to make myself stuff the turkey "loosely" rather than as tight as possible. 

We usually have about two dozen family for holiday dinners.   The sourdough adds a pleasant tang to the otherwise boring dressing and disappears a little too fast. 

For non-holiday birds I tend to stuff them with spicy suasages, sometimes with potatoes, or make cornbread stuffing since my wife was originally from High Point, NC where that is more typical. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 July 2012 at 09:13
sounds really good, guys ~

i like the idea of the mushrooms, and of course using "real" bread. the sourdough would be good, and i was thinking also maybe onion bagels or something like that in there, too. yep, stock is ALWAYS the best way to go, i agree 100%. turkey preferred, of course but we never seem to have any around when we need it, so we go with the chicken stock or broth, which is almost as good. never any giblets for us, and even though i like cornbread and sausage stuffing, the beautiful mrs. tas doesn't, so we never have it, unfortunately.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Feather Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 October 2012 at 09:43
Thanksgiving in Canada is just over, and Thanksgiving in the states is coming up at the end of November. Here in the upper midwest it's good to have a hearty stuffing to get through those early days of winter cold and snow.

In contrast to the above recipe, I'll tell you a little about our dressing/stuffing.

Bread--cut it into cubes when it is just out of the freezer, it will stay in cubes and not mush down. Bake the cubes until the tops are just starting to brown a little and they are dry.

Broth--the broth we use is from the gizzard, liver, and neck boiled in water with Salt, Pepper, and Sage, and whatever liquid is in the ground, cooked sage sausage we have--including the fat.

Add any combination of the following:
Cooked crumbled sausage-use what you like. (hot and spicy if you like)
Rice- cooked white, brown and wild rice (which isn't a rice but it's good)
Sliced mushrooms, chopped sauteed celery, chopped sauteed onions, chopped apples, chopped walnuts or pecans.
Add butter if needed. Add 3 or so eggs to help it hold together.

Stuffing balls, form balls about the size of baseball, bake on a cookie sheet until crispy on the outside and moist inside. Serve with cranberry sauce and/or turkey gravy. It's a meal in itself.

These freeze well and make a good packed lunch over the month of December for us.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 October 2012 at 11:10
Brook ( H.F. ) and Feather,
 
Cool stuffing ideas. Thanks for posting. You have both given me some "food for thought".
 
STUFFING MUFFINS AND STUFFING BASEBALLS ...
 
Certainly something new, considering I have been preparing Mom Eva´s traditional NYC roast turkey stuffed for years, and we were just mentioning to do something different.
 
My norm is: day old Hogaza Galician huge circular crusty bread, celery, shallot, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, turkey stock drizzle, egg, leek diced, ground pork sausage or virutas ( strips ) of pancetta and / or we go with dried fruits, dried diced apricot ears, pinenuts, hazel nuts roasted and crushed, chopped Moroccan dates and Turkish figs with pancetta virutas ( strips ) & minced shallot.  
 
Thanks for the cool ideas,
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