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Turkey Stuffing / Dressing


awbrig
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How dry should the bread be?  Once I cube it, should I include the crumbs which lay on the cutting board?

Sure, Susan, I always do. If I am making cornbread, I crumble, not cube. And if I'm using bread, I keep bags of crumbs in the freezer and use them.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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  • 3 years later...

Due to family circumstances, my sister has moved Thanksgiving dinner up to Monday (yes the 15th) and put me in charge of the turkey.

I've found a source for an industrially-raised frozen whole bird and I'm fine with roasting the stupid thing but some typical stuffing ingredients, such as sage bulk sausage, chestnuts, packaged stuffing, USA-style cornbread/cornmeal etc. are unavailable in my area.

So... I'm asking for a savory stuffing recipe, to be cooked separately from the bird, without any charcuterie (except bacon I guess?) or other regional ingredients. The recipe should be very typically American (ie, no chiles, chorizo, Asian ingredients, etc.) or the whole purpose is defeated. White bread is preferred, since this is the only kind my baker handles, but I can get rye, multigrain and (probably) sourdough sliced bread from the supermarket.

Can anyone help?

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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Years ago, I had some similar constraints and made a dressing with bacon, onion and lots of mushrooms. I probably used sherry and chicken stock to moisten. I'm pretty sure I just used white bread for the starch. (Everyone liked it, by the way.)

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Question: should the bird be stuffed? I keep hearing things about how you shouldn't eat the stuffing out of the bird because it'll be full of unhealthy bacteria or something. Then again, I've seen cooking to 180° suggested.

I'm against stuffing birds for the simple reason that it increases cooking time. I chuck some shallots and rosemary in the cavity for flavor, but that's it.

EDIT -- Having finally plowed through the thread, I must say that I am APPALLED that nobody has written about PROPER stuffing -- oyster stuffing. Stuffing with White Castle hamburgers is an abomination. The four stuffing requirements: bread, butter, pork and oysters. Spice it however you want, so long as the four pillars of stuffing are there.

Here's a recipe from Saveur to use as a starting point: http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Oyster-Stuffing-1000065850

Edited by ScoopKW (log)

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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Tarragon yes, sage I'm not so sure about (although I can look).

Thanks both of you. I was thinking about doing the simple bread stuffing from JoC with the addition of toasted pecans and mushrooms, using chicken stock and white wine to moisten. But the Bittman recipe looks doable and is probbaly better than trying to invent something at this late hour.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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I stuff right before the turkey goes into the oven, and remove the stuffing right away. Then, as the turkey rests, I pop the stuffing in a casserole dish and put it back into the oven until it reaches 160 degrees. That way it's safe, and it tastes good. :raz:

I come from a long line of southern cooks, and the cornbread dressing is always stuffed into the turkey. As soon as the turkey comes out of the oven, just like you do, I put it into a separate casserole dish and give it a few spins in the microwave, just to be sure.

Obviously there must be an issue with the dressing not being safe, as I've been reading about that for some thirty years now, but nobody in our family has ever had a problem. I think that some folks used to stuff the turkey the night before, and then leave it all in the fridge until the next day, and then put that well-cooled turkey and dressing into the oven. Then it's difficult to get it all up to cooking temperature quickly.

If I've made the dressing the night before, I let it sit on the counter while I prepare the turkey for stuffing. That way, I get the chill off of the dressing before it goes in. The other thing that seems to be critical for safety is not to pack the dressing in tightly. You want it in there fairly loosely, so it's not so dense. It can expand while cooking, and the heat can penetrate more easily.

I also pre-heat the oven to 500, so it's nice and hot when the turkey goes in. Then I lower the heat to 325. I also have an oven thermometer that I double-check to be sure of the temperature. One year, long ago, the turkey didn't seem to be cooking fast enough, so I kept turning up the heat. The next week, I had the oven calibrated and, sure enough, it was cooking 75 degrees lower. When you're dealing with something like a stuffed raw turkey, you definitely want to know at exactly what temperature your oven cooks.

And there is absolutely nobody in our family, and I mean even the little kids, that can't taste the difference between the dressing that cooked inside the bird, spending hours being basted with turkey fats and juices, and the leftover amount of dressing that doesn't fit inside the bird, and that gets baked separately.

The dressing that was baked separately is good, and it always gets eaten sometime during the next few days along with the other leftovers, but the dressing from inside the bird is light years tastier. When you do a side-by-side taste test, there's simply no comparison.

A few years back, some of the young folks in our family (okay, the young men) got all excited about deep-frying the bird, because that's the current cool and in thing to do. And my daughter-in-law said she thought that would be good, too, because it would get the men out of the kitchen, and doing something useful. So I thought that maybe I wouldn't have to also roast a stuffed turkey. Yay, easier for me.

But no.

Turns out that our crew wants both: one that the menfolk can stand around drinking beer and frying in a contraption out on the back patio, AND Mom's traditional old-fashioned turkey, stuffed with the cornbread dressing recipe handed down from her grandma, and her grandma before that, and served with giblet gravy made from the drippings in the roasting pan.

As for the celery question, my grandmother's recipe included "about as much celery as you're willing to stand there and chop."

_______________________________

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Having finally plowed through the thread, I must say that I am APPALLED that nobody has written about PROPER stuffing -- oyster stuffing. Stuffing with White Castle hamburgers is an abomination. The four stuffing requirements: bread, butter, pork and oysters. Spice it however you want, so long as the four pillars of stuffing are there.

The definition of PROPER stuffing varies from place to place. For you oysters are a must for me they're definitely a NO NO! Also where are the Giblets? They certainly are part of any good stuffing and gravy! Also onions, sage and celery are a must have in any respectable stuffing! I certainly do agree that pork (usually in the form of sausage) is definitely a requirement and that stuffing with White Castle burgers is a complete abomination! Of course there's also a lot of controversy about what type of bread to use. I normally use a mixture of whole wheat, white and sourdough breads and not cornbread.

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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The two places I'm from, New England and the Gulf Coast, use Oysters in stuffing.

I now live in Las Vegas, where they DON'T include Oysters in their Thanksgiving stuffing -- just one more reason why Las Vegas is a horrible, horrible place.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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The two places I'm from, New England and the Gulf Coast, use Oysters in stuffing.

I now live in Las Vegas, where they DON'T include Oysters in their Thanksgiving stuffing -- just one more reason why Las Vegas is a horrible, horrible place.

Looks like you've lived in about the only two areas where they use Oysters in stuffing! I've ever seen it used anyplace not on the coast. I'm not quite sure in what ways you consider Vegas a horrible place? It is certainly near the top of the list of places I enjoy visiting. Maybe it's different if you live and work there but at least you don't have to worry about state income taxes which is a major advantage!

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I guess pork, salt and sage?

I did the bread stuffing from JoC (modified), which has no meat in it, for my early Thanksgiving. It came out okay but I did feel it was missing something, so.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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Does everyone put actual sausage in their stuffing? I don't have any sage sausage at the moment, but I have plenty of pork, and plenty of sage. Can I just take the ingredients for sage sausage and fry it up? And uh... what are the ingredients of sage sausage?

I've done it that way before and it works very well. It's actually better if you mix everything together the day before you cook it.

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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What's the consensus on eggs in the stuffing as a binder? I never do it, but I read an article the other day that implied that was standard technique. Do you all put an egg or two in there to hold things together, sort of like a bread pudding?

Reporting from the southern cornbread dressing faction, the answer is yes, always.

But with cornbread the consistency is not similar to bread pudding, like it is with regular white bread stuffing. In fact, the "gummy" texture of white bread stuffing is one of the reasons that southerners often give for preferring cornbread.

I add two beaten eggs to my big bowl of cornbread and white bread crumbs, chopped celery, onions, etc.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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There was an interesting interview with Christpher Kimball on NPR this morning on how to get that inside-the-bird taste out of your stuffing by not actually stuffing the bird. He says the secret it to top your dressing with browned turkey wings, just pile them on, before placing the pan of dressing into the oven. The juices from the wings seep down into the dressing as it cooks.

http://www.npr.org/2010/11/18/131418777/thanksgiving-makeover

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I make a relatively simple chestnut stuffing and use homemade bread that is a corn-white mix, dried in cubes. The usual suspects such as onion and celery, sometimes chopped fennel, lots of butter get sweated, with Simon and Garfunkle seasoning: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (always fresh thyme). I add a little chopped green apple for moisture, but no other extra broth. This gets put in the turkey just before roasting, and it's fairly well sealed in the cavities and behind the legs. I always cook a casserole full of it separately for the vegetarians, adding veg broth to that. No eggs, anywhere. I'm at a loss to see what function they serve.

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  • 4 years later...

I would be curious to hear more Thanksgiving/turkey stuffing/dressing traditions. I've been fascinated with all of the regional variations.

 

My parents spent their teens and young adult years living in Michigan. Somehow, with my mom's family originally from Italy and dad's from England, our family stuffing was wild rice based. Pretty simple to make, IIRC, butter, sauteed onion and celery, sliced mushrooms, parboiled wild rice, and stock with a raw egg beaten in. Sometimes it was 50% brown rice with the wild rice, probably due to price fluctuations.

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""  the secret it to top your dressing with browned turkey wings, just pile them on, before placing the pan of dressing into the oven. The juices from the wings seep down into the dressing as it cooks. ""

 

just use real turkey stock for the water part of the Rx.

 

mine is cornbread  ( PFarm ) sausage ( raw, jones from the 'tube' ) dried cranberries, toasted pecans, and chopped up granny smiths w the skin on

 

use 1/2 the butter recommended and 1 tube of jones uncooked.  thats your other fat.

 

and 'full flavored' turkey stock.

 

bake lots

 

leftovers ( ?? ) are micro'd for breakfast w a poached egg on top !

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I would be curious to hear more Thanksgiving/turkey stuffing/dressing traditions. I've been fascinated with all of the regional variations.

 

My parents spent their teens and young adult years living in Michigan. Somehow, with my mom's family originally from Italy and dad's from England, our family stuffing was wild rice based. Pretty simple to make, IIRC, butter, sauteed onion and celery, sliced mushrooms, parboiled wild rice, and stock with a raw egg beaten in. Sometimes it was 50% brown rice with the wild rice, probably due to price fluctuations.

Mine is a traditional Southern cornbread dressing, cooked in a separate pan from the turkey. Crumbled cornbread (some people add "light bread" as well; I don't), eggs, chicken pr turkey broth, sage, salt and pepper. Most people add chopped, sauteed onion and celery; some in my family don't like onion and I don't like celery, so I leave both out.

 

Served, canonically, with cranberry sauce and giblet gravy.

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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I would be curious to hear more Thanksgiving/turkey stuffing/dressing traditions. I've been fascinated with all of the regional variations.

 

My parents spent their teens and young adult years living in Michigan. Somehow, with my mom's family originally from Italy and dad's from England, our family stuffing was wild rice based. Pretty simple to make, IIRC, butter, sauteed onion and celery, sliced mushrooms, parboiled wild rice, and stock with a raw egg beaten in. Sometimes it was 50% brown rice with the wild rice, probably due to price fluctuations.

 

I like "cooking local." So, living in West Michigan, I like to use products grown or raised around here: chestnuts (yes, we grow them here: one two three four), dried cherries, onion, celery, morels (dried, of course), eggs, turkey or chicken stock, and bread (challah this year).

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"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Well, the stuffing my grandmother made took me about 15 years to replicate. She rarely wrote down her recipes, and I only learned from standing in the kitchen watching her. It was hard to remember everything, though. The only other thing that came remotely close was the stuffing at the Bavarian Inn at Frankenmuth, MI.

 

Grandma used the giblets (diced up) and broth from the turkey; dried bread cubes (from her homemade potato bread), onion, celery, more onion, more celery, sage, salt, and the key ingredient that eluded me for so many years: white pepper.  I think there are a few more things that went into it- like garlic, - but that was the basic recipe. 

 

While that is the one recipe I am most fond of, I do enjoy the addition of wild rice, mushrooms, and chestnuts added into it. And, raising free range, organic monster-turkeys affords me the luxury of fixing this meal whenever the mood strikes, or when company comes. =) 

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-Andrea

 

A 'balanced diet' means chocolate in BOTH hands. :biggrin:

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