Perfect Stuffing Recipes for the Holidays

We’re all thinking it, so let’s just finally admit it: stuffing is the best part of the holiday meal. It’s the hearty, flavorful reminder that we’re sharing a feast that only happens on special occasions, to celebrate with our family and friends.

Stuffing holds a special place in my heart, because it’s always associated with a big table of happy, chatty relatives, second and third helpings – and copious amounts of wine, of course.

What’s great about stuffing is that it’s a super flexible dish. You can always take an existing recipe and make it your own with all your favorite herbs and ingredients. Try experimenting with new substitutions and unusual additions. You may discover a new family-favorite recipe in the process. (Just make sure to taste test ahead of time!)

A Brief History of Stuffing

A form of stuffing has been used to fill the cavity of many roasted animals since the time of the Roman Empire. These stuffings mainly consisted of vegetables, herbs and spices, nuts and spelt (an ancient grain), and organ meat such as liver. Since then the trend has spread worldwide with family recipes changing over time in many different cultures.

Different cultures prefer different ingredients, so while an American stuffing often has a bread base, a Middle Eastern stuffing will be made with rice or minced meat, while a British stuffing can include sausage meat and dried fruits such as apricot.

Regardless, I won’t even touch the terminology debate: you can fight it out with your neighbors over whether it’s called “stuffing,” “dressing” (down south), or “filling” (Pennsylvania, I’m looking at you).

a-world-of-stuffing

Different Ways to Cook Your Stuffing

Wait, that’s why it’s called “stuffing,” right? Don’t you just stuff it inside your turkey?

That’s certainly one option. But let me offer two other options that I actually prefer: baking the stuffing in a separate dish, and skin-stuffing.

Baking the stuffing separately allows you to fully control the perfect cooking of the mixture. One issue with stuffing the cavity of your bird is that it’s hard to get the bird and stuffing cooked just right at the same time. Often the time needed to cook the stuffing inside the bird is much longer than that needed to cook the bird, which results in dry meat and undercooked stuffing – no good!

In a baking or casserole dish, you can spread out the stuffing to ensure even cooking, and you can even get a nice, crispy golden-brown top if you leave your dish uncovered for the last few minutes of cooking. If you opt for this method, be sure to add an extra half cup of stock or juice to your stuffing recipe to make sure it doesn’t dry out too much.

But my personal favorite is skin-stuffing. This requires you to leave the skin on your bird and loosen it gently so there’s space to spread a 1-inch layer of stuffing between the skin and meat on the top of the bird. This works best with a nice sticky sausage-based stuffing (see Recipe #2 below). Prepare to get your hands dirty with this one!

stuffing-techniques

3 Mouth-Watering Stuffing Recipes

Here are three stuffing recipes that will give you plenty of options, depending on individual preferences for ingredients and flavor.

1. Traditional Herbed Stuffing

Source: Adapted from Epicurious.com

Makes: 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 6 stalks celery with leaves, diced
  • 14 oz package unseasoned bread stuffing cubes
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp dried sage, crumbled (or 1 tbsp fresh, finely minced)
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed (or 1 tbsp fresh, finely minced)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme, crumbled (or 1 tbsp fresh, finely minced)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 ¼ cups canned turkey stock, plus ½ cup more if baking stuffing outside of turkey

Preparation:

  1. In a frying pan over moderate heat, heat butter until it begins to bubble slightly. Add onion and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft.
  2. Transfer to large mixing bowl. Add stuffing cubes, parsley, celery salt, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Heat 1 ¼ cups turkey stock in a saucepan or the microwave, add to the bowl, and stir.
  3. If stuffing turkey: Use immediately to fill cavities or under skin and spread the remaining mixture in a baking dish.
  4. If baking separately: Preheat oven to 350°F and butter a 9×13 inch baking or casserole dish. Spread stuffing in dish and drizzle with ½ cup hot turkey stock. Cover with foil and bake about 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until top goes crisp and golden, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Tip: You can substitute vegetable stock for the turkey stock to make a vegetarian/vegan version.

farmhouse-herbed-stuffing

2. Apricot and Mint Stuffing

Source: Glynn Christian’s Best of Breakfast Time Cook Book

Makes: 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs Bratwurst sausage
  • ½ lb fatty sausage
  • ½ lb dried apricots
  • Grated rind and juice of large orange
  • 1 tbsp dried mint
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground mace (can substitute nutmeg)
  • ½ tsp ground cloves

Preparation:

  1. Remove sausage meat from their casings and mix both types together thoroughly in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Slice the dried apricots into thin strips and add to the mixture with all the rest of the ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
  3. If stuffing turkey: Use immediately to fill cavities or under skin and spread the remaining mixture in a baking dish.
  4. If baking separately: Preheat oven to 350°F and butter a 9×13 inch baking or casserole dish. Spread stuffing in dish. Cover with foil and bake about 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until top goes crisp and golden, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

apricot-and-mint-stuffing

3. Pear and Cranberry Stuffing

Source: Nigella Lawson – Nigella Christmas

Makes: 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 500g dried pears
  • 175g fresh cranberries, or thawed from frozen
  • 100g dried breadcrumbs
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 125g pecans
  • 1 ½ tsp table salt
  • Zest and pulpy juice of a clementine
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

Preparation:

  1. Soak dried pears overnight in cold water, drain, and add to a large mixing bowl. Add the cranberries, breadcrumbs, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, pecans, and salt. Stir.
  2. Add the clementine zest and pulpy juice, onion, and maple syrup. Mix thoroughly.
  3. If stuffing turkey: Use immediately to fill cavities or under skin and spread the remaining mixture in a baking dish.
  4. If baking separately: Preheat oven to 350°F and butter a 9×13 inch baking or casserole dish. Spread stuffing in dish. Cover with foil and bake about 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until top goes crisp and golden, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

pear-and-cranberry-stuffing

No matter which combination of ingredients and cooking method you prefer, there’s a stuffing out there for everyone. Make sure you have fun with it, and make it your own. You could create the favorite family recipe that gets handed down for generations to come – but no pressure!

Article Courtesy of Fix.com / Nicola Brown



CapeCod.com
737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
Contact Us | Advertise Terms of Use 
Employment and EEO | Privacy