Bread stuffing, also known as dressing or simply stuffing, is a common side dish for Thanksgiving dinner. It is also enjoyed as a side dish for chicken and pork dinners. Find out where and when this simple, satisfying, savory dish originated, as well as how to make the best stuffing ever.
Stuffing of one type or another has been documented since Ancient Roman times. Ancient stuffing typically contained grains, herbs, vegetables, spices and meat. Stuffing was referred to as "farce" in the Middle Ages, derived from the Latin word "farcire," which literally translates as "to stuff." The word "stuffing" came into use around 1540, and was used exclusively until the late 1800s when upper-class ladies found the word distasteful and began to refer to it as "dressing."
As its name suggests, bread stuffing was originally stuffed inside the body cavities of foul or fish, or sometimes into a cut of meat that was sliced open to create a cavity. It is still predominantly used in this manner, and is also stuffed into squash or other vegetables as part of a vegan or vegetarian meal. Many people make stuffing separately in a casserole dish or even on top of the stove.
Bread stuffing is typically made of cubed bread, combined with turkey or chicken broth, chopped onions and celery, butter or margarine, eggs and seasoned with salt, pepper, sage and poultry seasoning. Once it is stuffed into meat or a vegetable or placed into a casserole dish, it is baked until brown and served as a savory side to the main course. While white or wheat bread is most commonly used, cornbread is another popular option.
Although one might not think of stuffing as an unfriendly food for vegetarians or vegans, the broth, butter and eggs used might make it so. It can be made to suit a vegan diet, though, by replacing the turkey or chicken broth with vegetable broth. The butter and eggs can be eliminated and replaced with water, cider vinegar or other liquids.
Do not use soft, fresh bread to make stuffing. If you are unable to get any stale or day-old bread, dry slices of fresh bread by placing them on a cookie sheet and putting them in a very low-heat oven--about 275 degrees Fahrenheit--for 15 minutes. Stuffing should not be prepared in advance. It will be soggy and not as appealing as fresh out of the bird or oven.