The Lowdown on Stuffing
During the Holidays, a turkey without stuffing is like cake without frosting. It’s nice but it’s even better with frosting!
So, what is stuffing?
Stuffing is a mixture of ingredients that are meant to complement the turkey, whether it be stuffed in the turkey during cooking, baked in a separate dish or both.
The stuffing mixture is made up of a filler such as bread or grains combined with flavorings such as meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, herbs and spices added to it. Stuffing needs to be well seasoned otherwise it can taste very bland.
The filler is the binder for the stuffing. It will determine the consistency and texture of the stuffing.
Bread is a commonly used filler, whether it is cut into cubes or made into breadcrumbs. Cubes will create a more crumbly dish, whereas breadcrumbs will be more robust mixture making it great to add to the post turkey-day sandwiches.
You can make your own breadcrumbs for stuffing by roughly chopping stale bread, placing it in a food processor with a metal blade attachment and pulsing until you have the desired consistency. The finer the breadcrumbs, the denser the stuffing.
The type of bread used will affect the texture and taste of the stuffing:
- Cornbread will give a sweeter taste with a light crumb
- Italian or French bread will give neutral taste with a light crumb
- Sourdough will give tangy almost sour taste with a solid crumb
- Challah or Brioche will give a light crumb with a rich butter taste
The use of grains such as rice is also popular especially if you have guests who have wheat or gluten allergies. The types of grains commonly used are rice – wild, as well as short and long grained; and Quinoa.
There are many different ingredients that can be used to add flavor and texture to your stuffing. These include, but are not limited to:
Meat and seafood:
Bacon, chicken livers, pancetta, sausage, oysters
Carrots, celery, mushrooms, onions, shallots, squash, spinach
Fruits and Nuts:
Apples, chestnuts, cranberries, dried apricots, prunes, pecans, walnuts
Herbs and Spices:
Garlic, nutmeg, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme
As the base of the stuffing is a starch, it can become dry, so it’s important to use liquid to moisten the mixture.
Bourbon, Cognac, Madeira, Marsala, Whiskey, White Wine
Chicken stock, turkey stock, cream
It’s a good to write down the ingredients you used in your stuffing and put it in your Thanksgiving Folder, so that when can either repeat the success next year or try something new.
Stuffing or Dressing – what’s the difference?
Basically there isn’t any difference between stuffing and dressing. They’re both used either to stuff a bird or to be baked along side a bird in a separate dish. The term dressing is one more commonly used in the southern states of the US.
Check out our Basic Turkey Stuffing recipe.