Slice It, Dice It, Serve It: The Stuffing’s the Thing

Kieran McCourt, Weavers Way Ambler

Whether cooked inside the turkey or separately, stuffing can be what pulls the holiday feast together, besides the gravy. Here are some ideas to gussy it up:

Vegetable base: Swap out leeks for onions. Consider finely diced celeriac in place of celery. Don’t forget to sweat your aromatic veggies on the stove.

Bump up the seasoning: Whether using classic poultry seasoning or something with more heat, consider blooming the spices in warm oil or butter with your aromatics. This ups the flavor and aromatic qualities of your spices.

Meaty bits: Nothing adds a bit of texture to stuffing like a bit of seared meat — sausage like chorizo or andouille or something milder. For plant-based diners, use your favorite veggie sausage, or fry or roast mushrooms.

Hydrating the starch: Liquid elevates dried chunks of bread into a delicious side. Consider using homemade stock — don’t let that turkey neck go to waste! Bump up boxed stock by simmering it with dried mushrooms. If you’re cooking your stuffing outside the bird, swap in vegetable stock to put one more thing on the table for the vegetarians in your life.

Something fresh: While dried spices will do most of the heavy lifting, add in fresh herbs — parsley, thyme and/or sage.

Beyond the bag: Whether for the holiday or a weeknight meal, any stale and dried out bread will do. Play around with sourdough or cornbreads. If it’s not dried out enough, bake off cubed bread in the oven at a lower temperature to dry it out and pick up a little extra toasty taste. Even cooked grains like rice can make a delicious stuffing.

Extras for stuffing made outside the bird:

  • Mix an egg with the stock before adding to the stuffing mixture for a more custardy texture with a crispy exterior.
  • Finish with a bit of brown butter or fry up sage leaves for a deeper and nuttier flavor.

Food Safety Alert: According to the United States Department of Agriculture, if you’re stuffing your turkey, cook all raw ingredients before filling your bird and make sure that the center of the stuffing is cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F. Remember to take the temperature of the meat from the thickest part of the breast and innermost part of the thigh and wing.