Secrets to a Standout Thanksgiving Stuffing

Traditional Holiday Stuffing-
Sausage and sage add a gourmet taste to this stuffing. It's perfect for large family gatherings, but you can also save some for later. Lorraine Brauckhoff - Zolfo Springs,... more 
Traditional Holiday Stuffing-
Sausage and sage add a gourmet taste to this stuffing. It's perfect for large family gatherings, but you can also save some for later. Lorraine Brauckhoff - Zolfo Springs, Florida less 
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Thu, Oct 6, 2011 5:15 PM EDT

What time-honored dish are you likely to find alongside the creamy mashed potatoes, marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes, ruby-red cranberry sauce and other fixin's? Sensational stuffing, of course!

That perfectly seasoned blend of bread, rice, other grains or even potatoes is baked and gobbled up year after year. Most traditional stuffings, or dressings, start with sauteed vegetables like onion and celery. Then cubed or crumbled bread, such as corn bread, French, Italian or white bread, and seasonings are added to the vegetable mixture. Depending on family traditions and regional tastes, other ingredients from fruits and nuts to meats and seafood can be used to lend additional flavor.

Tips on Texture

When it comes to the texture of stuffing, some people like it dry and crisp; some like it moist and dense. Soft breads produce a dense, spongy stuffing; toasted breads produce a drier stuffing because the bread crumbs can absorb more juices without becoming soggy.

To get the consistency your family prefers, follow these simple suggestions:

  • For a drier stuffing, use prepackaged dry bread crumbs or cubes and limit the amount of liquid.
  • For moister stuffing, used melted butter in your recipe. The butter won't evaporate when heated or make the stuffing wet like liquid can.
  • Another option for moister stuffing is to add stock, broth or juice until the mixture is just moist enough that it sticks together when pinched. But keep in mind that stuffing baked in poultry or in a tightly covered dish will not dry out as it bakes.
  • For fluffier stuffing, add a beaten egg or pasteurized egg product. It will allow the stuffing to bake to a lighter, more airy consistency.

Strategies to Stuff By

When preparing your poultry with stuffing, keep these rules in mind:

  • Thaw poultry to between 35° and 40° before stuffing.
  • To prevent harmful bacteria from growing, wait to stuff the bird until just before it goes in the oven. Never add stuffing to a turkey after it's begun roasting.
  • For food safety reasons, only cooked ingredients, such as sauteed veggies or an egg substitute, should be included in a dressing when it's stuffed in poultry.
  • Stuff both the neck and body cavities of the bird, then close and secure with skewers.
  • Do not tightly pack stuffing into the bird. As a general rule, use 3/4 cup stuffing per pound of poultry. Extra stuffing can be cooked in a separate baking dish.
  • Stuffing is done when a meat thermometer inserted near the center of the stuffing in the turkey cavity reads 165°.
  • When estimating how much to make, plan on 3/4 cup stuffing per person.
Traditional Holiday Stuffing
24 Servings
Prep: 35 min. Bake: 45 min.
  • 1 package (12 ounces) reduced-fat bulk pork sausage or breakfast turkey sausage links, casings removed
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
  • 4 teaspoons rubbed sage
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 2 loaves (16 ounces each)day-old white bread, cubed
  • 1 loaf (16 ounces) day-old whole wheat bread, cubed
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) Progresso ® Reduced-Sodium Chicken Broth
  • In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook the sausage, celery and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Remove from the heat; stir in the mayonnaise, mustard, sage and poultry seasoning.
  • Place bread cubes in a large bowl; add sausage mixture. Combine eggs and broth; pour over bread cubes and stir gently to combine. Transfer to two 3-qt. baking dishes coated with cooking spray.
  • Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 12-18 minutes longer or until lightly browned and a thermometer reads 160°. Yield: 24 servings.

    Editor's Note: If using this recipe to stuff poultry, replace the eggs with 3/4 cup egg substitute. Bake until a meat thermometer reads 180° for poultry and 165° for stuffing. Allow 3/4 cup stuffing per pound of turkey. Bake remaining stuffing as directed in the recipe.

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