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Thanksgiving Stuffing: In or Out?

post #1 of 53
Thread Starter 

There has been lots of debate on whether to cook the stuffing inside the bird or outside the bird.  I am a fervent believer that stuffing should be cooked seperately from the bird.  It gives it a chance to shine on its own and we can all avoid the dangers of food borne illness this way. 

 

I always ask the host of thanksgiving if the stuffing is cooked in the carcass just to be sure.  I will not touch it if it is.  Although to be honest, asking is just a precaution because it is easy to see when stuffing is made in the bird by the way it looks - wet and gloopy and utterly unappetizing.

 

"Stuffing is Evil" - Alton Brown

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdbAZmLQs2E

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #2 of 53

If the turkey is "stuffed" then the turkey ends up being under cooked, or totally dry.  But, This is america, and over cooked is seen as a good. 

post #3 of 53

    I like to cook my stuffing outside of the bird, but using the juices from the bird to "baste" the stuffing throughout the cooking process.  I will also make some turkey stock before Thanksgiving.  I'll either cook a whole bird a couple of weeks before or by some turkey parts to make the stock and then freeze it until it's needed.

 

   Actually, thanks for reminding me...I need to get going on my stock smile.gif

 

   dan

post #4 of 53
Thread Starter 

I usually use chicken stock but have also made stock using turkey wings (they make very good stock!). 

 

I have recently discovered that adding a tbsp of tomato paste to my stockpot bring an amazing depth of flavor to my stock.  It doesn't make it tomatoey, just rich and deep and luscious!  Tomato paste has transformed my stocks.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #5 of 53

Stuffing is always always always always always on the outside. I am sorry was that unclear? .

 

I follow a process similar to what Dan is saying. I think it yields the best stuffing.

 

 

Quite a few years ago I saw Jaques Pepin demonstrate a technique that I still use to this day.

 

  1. Separate the leg and thigh (keep them as one piece)
  2. Remove the breast as one piece keeping the wings connected.
  3. Prepare your stuffing
  4. Debone the leg and thigh pieces and use some of the stuffing to stuff them and tie them. 
  5. Put the remaining stuffing at the bottom of your roasting pan and set the breast over the stuffing.
  6. Put the leg and thigh pieces back where they would go normally (you are basically re-assembling the bird).
  7. Roast the turkey and it cooks in half  the time. The stuffing absorbs all of the wonderful juices from the turkey.

 

 

What I like about this approach you get the back bones of the turkey and the bones from the legs to use when you make your turkey stock for your gravy so your gravy has an extra punch.

Thanks,

Nicko 
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Thanks,

Nicko 
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post #6 of 53

This sounds good.  It seems to solve most of the issues that I have with typical turkey.

post #7 of 53

In the bird but I don't pack it tight, rest goes around the outside of the bird. Never have an overcooked breast problem. I do check the temps of the stuffing to make sure it is done.

post #8 of 53

Frankly, since I discovered the "stuffin' muffin" concept that's the only way I do it. No more fights over the crispy part of the dressing.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #9 of 53

Out.

 

Quicker to cook. Can be made ahead, More of the best crusty bits. Flavor improves if made ahead, just reheat for service. 

 

drizzle some of the turkey drippings over it before reheating to give it that cooked-in-the-turkey flavor just before you reheat. Or make a turkey 6-8 weeks in advance of Thanksgiving and save some stock to make the stuffing with for the big day. I save 2 quarts for jump starting the stuffing and for gravy work ahead of time.

post #10 of 53


Explain the "stuffin muffin" please?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

Frankly, since I discovered the "stuffin' muffin" concept that's the only way I do it. No more fights over the crispy part of the dressing.

Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
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Thanks,

Nicko 
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All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
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post #11 of 53

Always, always, always outside. That's not to say I won't stuff something in the cavity, but it's not for later consumption. When I make stuffing (which we call dressing anyway) it's either with sausage or oysters. I don't like the dressing to taste like turkey. If it does, what's the point?

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #12 of 53

I'll leave the explanation to KYH.  But below is a pic I found.  I do not enjoy the taste of stuffing, personally.  However, making it this way is definitely more popular with the stuffin' lovin' folks than the traditional method.

 

 

stuffin' muffin'.jpg

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post #13 of 53


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefBazookas View Post

I'll leave the explanation to KYH.  But below is a pic I found.  I do not enjoy the taste of stuffing, personally.  However, making it this way is definitely more popular with the stuffin' lovin' folks than the traditional method.

 


I believe you don';t like the taste, - stuffing outside the bird is pretty dry and tasteless. 

 

I always always stuff the turkey - that's what stuffing means. I can't possibly imagine it not in the bird.  No juices to flavor it, all dry and crumbly - not appealing to me.   I make it the day before - sauteed liver and heart and all that, lots of onion and celery, a bit of thyme or marjoram, toast, croutons whatever, sometimes cornbread, broth from a couple of turkey wings and a mashed potato to keep it moist. 

I leave in fridge the day before.  Stuff cold turkey with cold stuffing.  No warming of the interior to cause dangerous bacteria to grow. 

I stuff under the skin with cold butter mixed with thyme or rosemary, crushed garlic and salt and cracked multi color pepper

I cook the turkey at a very high temperature, tenting the breast when it starts to get too brown - if it does. 

It comes always juicy (even the breast).

Oh, and i usually have too much stuffing so i take the rest and wrap in double foil, make a couple of fork holes in the bottom and rest it in the roasting pan (very large flat low-sided pan) along with the potatoes.  Wrapped it remains moist, and the holes let some of the flavor in from the pan. 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #14 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by siduri View Post


 


I believe you don';t like the taste, - stuffing outside the bird is pretty dry and tasteless. 

 

I would beg to differ. It's only dry and tasteless if you allow it to be.

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #15 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by siduri 

 


I believe you don';t like the taste, - stuffing outside the bird is pretty dry and tasteless. 

 

 

I don't like the taste no matter how it's prepared.  I've never tasted a stuffing dish that I liked, from inside the bird or outside.

I don't like food, I love it.  If I don't love it, I don't swallow.
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I don't like food, I love it.  If I don't love it, I don't swallow.
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post #16 of 53
Thread Starter 



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by siduri View Post


 


I believe you don';t like the taste, - stuffing outside the bird is pretty dry and tasteless. 

 

 

As opposed to being cooked inside the bird which makes it soggy and mushy?  I call a duel!

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #17 of 53

From a food safety standpoint, do not stuff the bird. By placing stuffing inside you would also tend to steam the bird not roast . The muffin way of stuffing looks and cooks nicely, It also allows a cook to know down to the wire if he has enough stuffing 20 people =20 muffins maybe a few xtra if you want. For Banquet or Hotel service, we always figured 1Pound of raw wight turkey nets 1 cooked portion  25 Lb. bird=25 portions. Figuring like this in 40 years in all different type places I never ran out. Gravy 3 ounces pp.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #18 of 53

Oh my goodness, IMHO, if the stuffing is "dry and tasteless", one of two things is amiss, the recipe or the technique!

 

That also goes for "wet and goopy" when it is "in the bird".

 

Dressing (stuffing) done right is delightful.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by siduri View Post

I believe you don';t like the taste, - stuffing outside the bird is pretty dry and tasteless...

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
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post #19 of 53

I don't stuff the bird - put half an onion and a whole lemon, cut into two in the cavity.  ALWAYS cook the home-made stuffing(s) outside the bird.  a sausage and apple stuffing and a sage and onion stuffing,

 

ALSO, I'm not an American, so I don't cook a Thanksgiving meal!

post #20 of 53


Completely agree.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by siduri View Post


 


I believe you don';t like the taste, - stuffing outside the bird is pretty dry and tasteless. 

 

I always always stuff the turkey - that's what stuffing means. I can't possibly imagine it not in the bird.  No juices to flavor it, all dry and crumbly - not appealing to me.   I make it the day before - sauteed liver and heart and all that, lots of onion and celery, a bit of thyme or marjoram, toast, croutons whatever, sometimes cornbread, broth from a couple of turkey wings and a mashed potato to keep it moist. 

I leave in fridge the day before.  Stuff cold turkey with cold stuffing.  No warming of the interior to cause dangerous bacteria to grow. 

I stuff under the skin with cold butter mixed with thyme or rosemary, crushed garlic and salt and cracked multi color pepper

I cook the turkey at a very high temperature, tenting the breast when it starts to get too brown - if it does. 

It comes always juicy (even the breast).

Oh, and i usually have too much stuffing so i take the rest and wrap in double foil, make a couple of fork holes in the bottom and rest it in the roasting pan (very large flat low-sided pan) along with the potatoes.  Wrapped it remains moist, and the holes let some of the flavor in from the pan. 

post #21 of 53

Explain the "stuffin muffin" please?

 

The name pretty well tells the tale, Nicko.

 

You make up your dressing mxture, however you like it. Then you portion it out into muffin tins and bake. The result is individual portions, all of which have a crust.

 

I first heard the term from Rachael Ray, and thought it very descriptive. Then, for some reason, I did a search using those words as the parameters and came up with several dozen hits; different recipes but all called stuffin' muffins.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #22 of 53

It's only dry and tasteless if you allow it to be.

 

Perfectly stated, Tyler.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #23 of 53

Simple sage & onion stuffing balls baked seperately for me. Big lumps of bread don't do it for me, but maybe that's a Trans-Atlatic thing....stuffing can be over complicated.

post #24 of 53

I have two that I usually make:

 

1) Oyster and mirliton

2) Sage and sausage cornbread dressing (my go-to dressing)

 

Either way, it's cooked in an aluminum pan.

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #25 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Buchanan View Post

From a food safety standpoint, do not stuff the bird. By placing stuffing inside you would also tend to steam the bird not roast . The muffin way of stuffing looks and cooks nicely, It also allows a cook to know down to the wire if he has enough stuffing 20 people =20 muffins maybe a few xtra if you want. For Banquet or Hotel service, we always figured 1Pound of raw wight turkey nets 1 cooked portion  25 Lb. bird=25 portions. Figuring like this in 40 years in all different type places I never ran out. Gravy 3 ounces pp.



I',m not sure what is unsafe, if the stuffing is cold like the turkey and you cook it at a high heat so it's not there ten hours. (I don;t ever cook turkeys over 8 kg). In any case my turkey NEVER tastes steamed, i detest steamed meat.  It's crispy and juicy.  But the stuffing without the juices of the meat, to my taste, is pretty useless.  It's not just the broth, but the fact of being cooked inside a bird.  Stuffings have been used since whole birds were cooked, for a reason.  They give flavor to the bird, and the bird gives flavor to it. 
It just makes no sense to me to call it stuffing and cook it dry (in an open pan).  My extra stuffing i wrap completely in foil, and sit it in the pan where it will take some turkey flavor.  But I can tell the difference in taste, and i put it out, but i make sure to eat the one from inside. 

I think that tastes must have changed over the years, because i remember when stuffing was always in the turkey, and then people started buying this pre-made stuffing mix, and cooking it in a pan.  Maybe also because people used to make the stuffing the same day as they cooked the turkey, big alarms were put out for stuffing being dangerous inside the turkey.  Then suddenly everyone is cooking it outside, and got used to it being crispy or whatever.  But stuffing was never intended to be crispy (not goopy either, Koukou - that's probably from lousy soft bread.).  So i can understand people liking the taste of crispy stuffing, after some time of getting used to it, but that's not really stuffing - which, as the word implies, is stuffed!

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #26 of 53

Food safety handling procedures change on a daily basis re food service . Like in every other modern technology we learn different things by experimentation and time. The logic behind the stuffing makes sense to me . It contains both egg and onion. If not fully cooked the onion will sour the stuffing quickly as will the egg..I even have seen people in their home making a stuffing and putting into bird right away no chilling first. My own grandmother did that. . People eat and linger with a stuffed bird on the table for a number of hours in some cases at room temp.Most food manufactures try to eliminate and substitute egg and dairy from their product for these reasons, they tend to lower the shelf life so to speak .

As far as using the word stuffing this is and has been changing to the term dressing.Most people here now, including myself do not want the soft, goopy stuff that for years was called stuffing which no matter how and what it is made from gets soggy in a bird.except for the part exposed. An option is to let it get a bit crisp outside and if you want it soft to your taste pour a lot of gravy  or stock on it.. In any event I know of no food service facility that stuffs birds that I have ever been in. 

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #27 of 53

The problem with in the bird stuffing is when people stuff the night before with room temp ingredients then into the bird and into the fridge. I brown the bird on high heat, pull it out and add the stuffing(some inside, the rest in the pan around the bird) and back into a 325 oven. With the bird already hot inside the cavity the stuffing seems to cook faster and is up to safe temps at the same time as the breast gets done. I also do not pack the stuffing into the cavity, leave some room for the heat to get in.

post #28 of 53

Look at why you are stuffing the bird in the first place. Is it to plug the hole in the cavity of the bird? Is it to add moisture? Is it to add flavor to the stuffing and the bird?   If you want to stuff the cavity use some fresh herbs (sage, thyme) and aromatic vegetables (Onions and celery/celery tops). These will steam inside the bird and add flavor and moisture, if this is a concern. You can discard the onions and celery at the end of the cooking process without the fear of food borne illness. If you like the look, you can put the stuffing you cooked on the side, in the cavity after the turkey is fully cooked.

post #29 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefBradley View Post

Look at why you are stuffing the bird in the first place. Is it to plug the hole in the cavity of the bird? Is it to add moisture? Is it to add flavor to the stuffing and the bird?   If you want to stuff the cavity use some fresh herbs (sage, thyme) and aromatic vegetables (Onions and celery/celery tops). These will steam inside the bird and add flavor and moisture, if this is a concern. You can discard the onions and celery at the end of the cooking process without the fear of food borne illness. If you like the look, you can put the stuffing you cooked on the side, in the cavity after the turkey is fully cooked.


I'm putting the stuffing in the bird to get the bird's flavor into the stuffing, and secondarily to get the flavor into the bird.  But i stuff under the skin with herbs and butter, so that flavor aspect is secondary.  I simply dislike stuffing that doesn't taste of the turkey. 

 

Mine has no egg, so no problem there.

 

Mine is not goopy.  I think goopy comes from using bread that is made with milk - standard commercial white bread in the states, which when wet gets goopy, no matter what you do.  I use italian bread and there is no goopyness. When I'm not pressed for time i make simple cornbread.   It's soft, yes, but incredibly tasty. I start with browned livers and giblets, sauteed celery and add very reduced turkey broth, a mashed potato (no milk, just potato - makes it soft but not goopy) and bread.  A little thyme or marjoram, and salt and pepper.  I think the taste for crispy stuffing comes from the fact that since people used to put warm stuffing in the turkey, left it overnight, and got food poisoning, everyone has gone to the opposite extreme and cooks it separately.  That makes it end up being crispy.  Then people got to like the crispiness. 

Stuffing, historically, was NEVER crispy, it was juicy, soft, moist. 

 

I think the food safety issues got extreme because some people won't take the precautions to make the stuffing get cold overnight before stuffing the turkey.  Yeah, of course you can't put warm stuffing in the bird, or even stuff it with cold stuffing the night before.  But if it is really dangerous to put COLD stuffing in a cold bird, let me know what is the danger.  I don't see it. 

 

The rest is simply a matter of taste.  I hate crispy stuffing. 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #30 of 53
Thread Starter 

Ok ok Siduri we get it, you don't like stuffing unless it's stuffed, and it has to taste like turkey and it can't be crispy.  Nobody's faulting you for it.  I won't argue about what "historical stuffing" was like but I'm sure BDL will be along at some point to know of some references we can turn to.  Stuffing is a matter of personal preference, personally it's not my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal and will gladly skip it if it looks juicy, soft, or moist which are also synonyms for wet, mushy, and soggy.  My inlaws are none to happy when I pass on their goop.  But people fiercely hold on to their traditions and their preferences and that's ok, in fact that's what Thanksgiving is about to most people and if we're not going to get passionate about it here then we can't get passionate about it anywhere.

 

It is worth noting however that the dangers of bacteria that cause food borne illness are not fictional and should at least be given some thought.  At the very least people with compromised immune systems like very young children and pregnant women should be forewarned of stuffing that is cooked in the bird.  And for the sake of research I'd be interested to know the temperature reading on the stuffing once it's cooked.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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