Saturday, December 1, 2012

Stuffing or Dressing?

That stuff that goes inside the turkey--do you call it stuffing or dressing?

It's always been stuffing at my house and it is my favorite part of the meal. My daughter makes an excellent one. She cuts a sourdough loaf into cubes, then bakes it, then makes her own breadcrumbs.

She sautees sausage meat with onion,sage, celery, stirs in the breadcrumbs and moistens the mixture with a good chicken stock. Simple but effective.

In England chestnut stuffing is sometimes served with goose or turkey, but peeling all those chestnuts is not only labor intensive, it's horribly expensive.

But one kind of English dressing you can easily make is bread sauce, that it served with chicken, turkey and goose. The recipe goes like this:

12 cloves
1 large onion
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup light cream
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 bay leaf
5 peppercorns
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
one half stick butter

stick cloves in onion. Add milk, stock, cream and other spices. Bring to boil Remove from heat and let rest for one hour. Strain the liquid. Add breadcrumbs to liquid. Cook, uncovered, until thick. Before serving melt butter and stir sauce into it.

It's a light, spicy and creamy addition that highlights the taste of turkey.
This and other English Christmas recipes can be found at the back of my new book, The Twelve Clues of Christmas.

And please share your favorite stuffing tips.


  1. Stuffing or dressing, it’s all the same to me: yuck. I’ve never liked it, I never eat it, but I do have a recipe for it since everyone else seems to think you cannot have turkey without it. Since it always disappears, I guess the stuffing-lovers enjoy it, so here’s the recipe [doubled. It will make enough to stuff a twenty-one pound turkey]:

    Put four cups bread cubes into a large bowl. Sauté one-half pound bulk sausage until light brown and crumbled; add to bowl with bread cubes; mix lightly. Sauté in one-quarter cup butter until tender: one minced clove garlic, one cup chopped celery, one-half cup chopped onion, one-half cup chopped mushrooms, one-eighth cup chopped parsley, one-eighth cup chopped green sweet pepper, one-quarter cup sliced almonds. Season with one teaspoon freshly-ground salt [or to taste], one-fourth teaspoon freshly ground pepper, one-eighth teaspoon nutmeg, one-half teaspoon poultry seasoning, a pinch of cayenne pepper. Add three-quarters cup consommé [or stock or broth], one-quarter cup sherry; heat through. Gently mix into bread/sausage mixture. Turn into a baking dish. Bake at 350 for thirty minutes or until hot.

  2. Joan, same here. My kids all love stuffing, and I did, too, when I was young. But it's just bread; these days I'm more interested in real bread, usually not made with white flour.

    My mother spent a lot of time making stuffing, using white bread, egg, and chopped onions and celery. I can still remember seeing her squeezing big handfuls of wet bread and cramming them into the back end of the bird.

    My girls usually insist on StoveTop, which also mystifies me, since all three of them are health nuts. This year I bought two boxes, but my brand-new sister-in-law asked if she could bring sausage stuffing, and I think we may never have StoveTop again. It was delicious.

    Now I don't know what I'll do with this StoveTop in my cupboard. Maybe the FreeStore would like it.

  3. I use a loaf of french bread and sourdough.. Much like your daughter's receipe, but I add a chopped apple and a couple of handfuls of dried cranberries..and bake in a greased pan. We don't like it soggy, so it's in a larger pan and only about 1.5-2 inches deep. Leftovers make a great base for turkey pot pie.

  4. I think I say both. But maybe I say "dressing" more than "stuffing."

    and all you folks who don't like it? I'll take your share, please! (unless it's cornbread dressing, which I really don't care for).

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Stuffing We call it stuffing, and it is DELISH.

    I make it with pumpernickel bread and it is fabulous. And I cook some in the turkey, and some in a casserole. IN the turkey stuffing is better, even though they say it is susceptible to salmonella. I've decided not to worry about that. You can only worry about so much, right?

    Speaking of which--Do you call it icing or frosting? Frost a cake with icing? Ice a cake with frosting?)

  7. We called it stuffing too, but weren't really consistent about it. Now that we avoid bread, it's kind of moot, I guess.

    I used to make it the way my grandmother taught me, but when my cousin went to work for Pepperidge Farms, she told us about their very high quality standards. I switched to their stuffing to support her livelihood and kept with them after she left the company, and never looked back. It's not as salty as Stove Top, which I always appreciated.

  8. Hmm, I looked at this and thought, oh, this looks like a recipe I just read somewhere.

    Right. At the end of the 12 Clues of Christmas, which I finished in bed this morning.

    My theory (totally unsubstantiated) is that it's stuffing while stuffed inside the bird, and dressing when it's sitting on the plate dressing up the meal.

  9. Hank, frosting and icing are two different things. Frosting is on a cake; icing is on cookies.

    At my house, anyway. :-)

  10. Stuffing in my family, too. And I'm not that wild about it either. Though it may be, as Hank says, that it's better in the bird.

    My recipe is similar to Joan's only this year I forgot the chicken broth so it was too crumbly:). They ate it anyway...

  11. It's dressing in our house and I'd share a recipe but I don't have one. Dressing is one of the things I eyeball.

    Hank, we call it frosting if it's light and fluffy and icing if it makes a thin, solid layer--like ice.

  12. Darlene,
    I'm with you on the frosting/icing definition - has to do with consistency.

    Susan D. I like the logic of your definitions, but I'm afraid it's always stuffing at my house, no matter where it's cooked.

    Love the pumpernickel idea, Hank. And Joan, sherry makes everything better!

  13. Dressing goes on salad.

    I'm a Pepperidge Farm stuffing girl, too. Just follow the package directions adding onions and celery. Can't miss.

  14. Pepperidge Farm gets my vote, too... the regular old-fashioned kind.

  15. Auntie-Mom says if you stuff the bird with it, it's stuffing. If you put it in a pan and bake it, it's dressing. She also says they don't taste the same, because "... there's no way you can duplicate the sucking-in of all those juices from inside the bird on the outside of the bird."

  16. It's always been stuffing. I grew up with Pepperidge Farm, which is what I make on the rare occasions that I host Thanksgiving.

    And it is always, always, always icing on the cake, and it had better be chocolate!

    (I can swear I smell a turkey roasting right now!How do you people DO that??)