My Dad calls it “soggy bread,” my sister calls it “mush,” but I call it “heaven.” No matter what you call it, Thanksgiving stuffing is one of my favorite parts about this enormous holiday feast.
The secret to this time-honored tradition is balance, the perfect blend of spices, bread crumbs, aromatics, and liquid. It needs to be baked and carefully watched so your stuffing comes of soft and moist, not bunt and tough. Depending on traditions and family taste, nuts and fruit are sometimes added, giving this savory dish a punch of sweetness and a subtle crunch. Italian sausage and White Castle hamburgers have also been used, turning this simple side into a heartier and meatier recipe.
With the holidays fast approaching, a primer might be necessary for putting together the best holiday stuffing possible. Here are a few tricks from the Taste of Home Test Kitchen to ensure a moist, flavorful stuffing every time:
All About Texture
When it comes to the texture of stuffing, some people like it dry and crisp; some like it moist and dense. Soft breads produce a dense, spongy stuffing; toasted breads produce a drier stuffing because the bread crumbs can absorb more juices without becoming soggy.
To get the consistency your family prefers, follow these simple suggestions:
- For a drier stuffing, use prepackaged dry bread crumbs or cubes and limit the amount of liquid.
- For moister stuffing, used melted butter in your recipe. The butter won’t evaporate when heated or make the stuffing wet like liquid can.
- Another option for moister stuffing is to add stock, broth or juice until the mixture is just moist enough that it sticks together when pinched. But keep in mind that stuffing baked in poultry or in a tightly covered dish will not dry out as it bakes.
- For fluffier stuffing, add a beaten egg or pasteurized egg product. It will allow the stuffing to bake to a lighter, more airy consistency.
Strategies to Stuff By
When preparing your poultry with stuffing, keep these rules in mind:
- Thaw poultry to between 35° and 40° before stuffing.
- To prevent harmful bacteria from growing, wait to stuff the bird until just before it goes in the oven. Never add stuffing to a turkey after it’s begun roasting.
- For food safety reasons, only cooked ingredients, such as sauteed veggies or an egg substitute, should be included in a dressing when it’s stuffed in poultry.
- Stuff both the neck and body cavities of the bird, then close and secure with skewers.
- Do not tightly pack stuffing into the bird. As a general rule, use 3/4 cup stuffing per pound of poultry. Extra stuffing can be cooked in a separate baking dish.
- Stuffing is done when a meat thermometer inserted near the center of the stuffing in the turkey cavity reads 165°.
- When estimating how much to make, plan on 3/4 cup stuffing per person.
How do you like your holiday stuffing? Is there are special recipe your family uses?
Get recipes: Stuffing Recipes
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