Turkey stuffing represents one of the main side dishes in a Thanksgiving meal. There are many turkey stuffing recipes. Each one is unique and often handed down through families. Stuffing, also called "dressing," is a mixture of bread, rice or potatoes that is either cooked separate from the turkey or stuffed into the turkey before baking. Stuffing is typically served as a side dish with the turkey.
Stuffing first made its debut in the 2nd century BC with the Romans. The first documented recipe of stuffing showed up in a Roman anthology of thousands of recipes called Apicius. It is likely they weren't stuffing a turkey, but rather a chicken. The French have also made great use of stuffing through the centuries. Stuffing was labeled "farce" in France. In Victorian England, the word stuffing was changed to "dressing" to reflect a more cultured way of explaining stuffing the empty cavity of an animal with a breaded concoction.
Turkey stuffing holds a place very near and dear in the hearts of Americans. It's a mainstay to the American Thanksgiving meal and, frankly, very few Americans stuff anything other than their turkey at Thanksgiving. While there is no concrete proof, there doesn't appear to be any evidence that the pilgrims served stuffing at the original Thanksgiving meal. However, these days turkey stuffing remains a much-loved addition.
Recipes for turkey stuffing range far and wide. However, there are a few base ingredients that are always used in recipes. Cooks typically use dried bread, rice or potatoes as the base for their stuffing. Then additional ingredients are thrown into the mix to add flavor, based on the preferences of the cook. In many ways, the base of the recipe depends on where the recipe is being cooked in the world. Americans tend to use bread in their dressing recipes, while Germans tend to use potatoes.
As stated above, turkey stuffing always has a base. Cooks then add whatever they prefer to the mix to spice it up and add flavor. The many ingredients that can be added include cherries, sausage, ground beef, nuts, vegetables and tropical fruit. Herbs and spices, such as sage and poultry seasoning, are used to add flavor. The wonderful thing about turkey stuffing is that so many things can be added to make each recipe individual.
Potatoes or rice that are added to stuffing are always cooked beforehand. In general, nothing is added to stuffing mix unless it is cooked. Raw meat is never put into the stuffing mix; it is always cooked first. Prepared stuffing mixes are available at the grocery store. However, many people choose to simply dry out their own bread by placing it on cookie sheets in the oven at 275 degrees for 15 minutes. The bread is then broken into small pieces.
Turkey stuffing requires some thought and planning. Food-borne illnesses are a major concern when stuffing a turkey. Cooks should always stuff the turkey with dressing right before placing the bird in the oven.
When stuffing a turkey with dressing, a general rule for volume is 3/4 cup per 1lb of turkey. The stuffing shouldn't be crammed into the turkey but rather placed loosely in the bird to allow heat to cook it thoroughly. Some cooks choose to cook turkey stuffing completely separate from the bird to avoid any possibility of contamination.