There is nothing like the scent of a turkey roasting in the oven! I love a roast turkey dinner with all the trimmings and I especially love the bread stuffing or, you may know it as “dressing”. The theory is that, if it goes inside the turkey cavity, it’s called “stuffing” but, if it is cooked separately (as in a casserole or loaf pan), then it’s called “dressing”. Regardless what it’s called, it just would not be a roast turkey dinner without this wonderful savory side dish.
There are many ways to make the turkey stuffing and many different ingredients and seasonings that can be used. Here on PEI, the most common seasoning is summer savory. In fact, this is a herb I grow in my garden. My grandmother always grew this herb, dried it, and hand-crushed it for use in stuffing/dressing throughout the year. Old traditions prevail!
Some folks make a stuffing that is quite dry and crumbly while others, like myself, make a version that is more moist. Some use bread cubes while others use either coarse or fine bread crumbs. I save up the crusts from bread, store them in my freezer, and then, when I have lots, I use my food processor to process a bag of fine bread crumbs that I keep in the freezer to have at the ready to make stuffing at any time. It’s a big time saver, particularly if you frequently prepare roast chicken or turkey dinners. The bread crumbs can be all one kind or a mixture of different breads – white and whole wheat or multi-grain, for example. In fact, the last stuffing/dressing I made, I used gluten-free bread crumbs.
I know some frown on placing the stuffing inside the turkey but I always do because it gives the turkey such lovely flavour as it roasts. It takes a little longer for the turkey to cook but I find it is so worth it.
Alternatively, the stuffing (er, dressing, in this case) can always be baked in a casserole or a loaf pan. I like to use a loaf pan if I am wanting nice slices of the dressing for a turkey platter for, say, a buffet. It looks neat and attractive and the dressing is easily picked up with a serving fork.
It’s important that the mashed potatoes be warm, not cold, when making the stuffing. You want to capture and retain the moisture from the potatoes for the stuffing and it is much easier to mix warm potatoes than cold. How many bread crumbs needed will depend, in large part, on how wet the potatoes are. Some potato varieties are quite dry when cooked so won’t need as many bread crumbs as will potatoes that cook up wet. Start with a couple of cups of soft fine bread crumbs and, if more are needed to reach the desired consistency, add the crumbs a tablespoon or two at a time. Now, by “fine” bread crumbs, I don’t mean fine as salt like the ones you would probably find on a grocery store shelf or at a bulk food store and which would be used to bread chicken or fish. For use in stuffing, the crumbs need to have a little coarseness and bulk to them.
I add a bit of celery and onion for added flavour and some chopped apple to give the stuffing/dressing a bit of sweetness. I also use a small amount of liquid chicken bouillon concentrate as this really enhances the flavour but does not add unnecessary liquid to the mixture.
It’s important not to pack the stuffing tightly into the turkey – just loosely fit it in. I find using a piece of greased tin foil to make a “cradle” with sides inside the cavity for the stuffing to lay on makes it easy to remove the stuffing once the turkey comes out of the oven. Grab hold of the ends of the tin foil and, with a gentle pull, out will come the stuffing intact. This allows the turkey to flavour the stuffing and vice versa but makes it easier to remove the stuffing rather than having to massacre it with a spoon in the process of trying to remove the stuffing.
(Printable recipe follows at end of posting)
Bread Stuffing for Chicken/Turkey
2 cups warm mashed potatoes (apx. 1 1/8 lb, uncooked)
2 cups soft fine bread crumbs (apx.)
2 tbsp finely chopped onion
1½ tsp summer savory
2 tbsp finely chopped celery
2 tbsp finely chopped apple
1 tsp liquid chicken bouillon
2 tbsp melted butter
1½ tbsp water
Salt and pepper, to taste
Mix all ingredients together and loosely fill the body cavity of the turkey or chicken with the stuffing. Roast turkey/chicken according to package directions.
Alternatively, lightly press mixture into greased loaf pan. Cover with tin foil and bake in 350F oven for 20 minutes then remove tin foil and bake for 10-15 minutes longer, or until lightly browned on top.
Yield: Enough to stuff apx. 12-15 lb turkey
Classic tasty stuffing for turkey or chicken
- 2 cups warm mashed potatoes (apx. 1 1/8 lb, uncooked)
- 2 cups soft fine bread crumbs (apx.)
- 2 tbsp finely chopped onion
- 1½ tsp summer savory
- 2 tbsp finely chopped celery
- 2 tbsp finely chopped apple
- 1 tsp liquid chicken bouillon
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- 1½ tbsp water
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Mix all ingredients together and loosely fill the body cavity of turkey or chicken with the stuffing. Roast turkey/chicken according to package directions.
- Alternatively, lightly press mixture into greased loaf pan. Cover with tin foil and bake in 350F oven for 20 minutes then remove tin foil and bake for 10-15 minutes longer, or until lightly browned on top.
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