Turkey Stuffing and Dressing

 Thanksgiving, Holidays
on November 1, 2009

Among Northeasterners, it’s called “stuffing,” even if it’s not “stuffed” inside the bird. Across the South, it’s typically baked in a casserole dish and called “dressing.”

Regardless of what you call it, cooks across America prepare the popular side dish in a variety of ways-with an assortment of ingredients-as part of a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Easterners like adding oysters and dried cranberries. Some Midwesterners stir in apples or wild rice. Southerners use cornbread and day-old biscuits for a binder. Northerners use a broad range of breadcrumbs made from white bread to pumpernickel bagels. West Coast recipes often include walnuts or dried fruit. Sage, celery and onions seem to be popular ingredients from coast to coast.

Dressing is not better than stuffing. Stuffing is not better than dressing. Some cooks give a nod to each by baking half of a favorite recipe inside the bird, and the other half casserole-style. Here are some of our favorites “stuffing/dressings.”

Sausage and Cornbread Dressing

Buttermilk Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Figs

Shitake-Apricot Stuffing

Chile Cornbread Stuffing

Oyster Dressing

USDA Cooking Guidelines
For even cooking, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends cooking stuffing that contains raw eggs, oysters or pork outside the bird in a casserole dish. However, if you choose to stuff your turkey, the department suggests filling the cavity loosely immediately prior to cooking, baking the bird at a minimum of 325 degrees and using a food thermometer to ensure that the center of the stuffing reaches 165 degrees. Visit www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Lets_Talk_Turkey for more food safety and cooking guidelines.