History of Stuffing and Dressing
Stuffing in the middle ages was known as farce, from the Latin farcire (and French farcir) meaning to stuff. Farce originally denoted a brief, lighthearted play stuffed in between lengthy religious productions to keep the audience from being bored.
Forcemeat and farce were also common terms referring to a spiced chopped meat mixture, currently still in use when referring to sausage.
The term stuffing first appears in English print in 1538. After 1880, it seems the term stuffing did not appeal to the propriety of the Victorian upper crust, who began referring to it as dressing. Nowadays, the terms stuffing and dressing are used interchangeably, with stuffing being the term of preference in the South and East portions of the United States.
Oyster stuffing was very popular in the nineteenth century and remains so today. Southerners often prefer pecan, rice or cornbread stuffing. Italians like sausage in their stuffing. Dried fruit, potatoes, and apples are a favorite with Germans. Chestnut stuffing is also popular in the North.
Whether your family calls it stuffing or dressing, most likely the first thing that comes to mind is Thanksgiving. However, stuffing is not just for holidays and not just for poultry. Many varieties of seafood and vegetables are also prime candidates for stuffing.
Stuffing Calculation Chart
This chart will help you determine how much stuffing or dressing to use for chicken, turkey, and other poultry.
|Quantity of Stuffing||Size of Bird||Number of Servings|
|1 pint||3-4 pounds||2-3|
|1-1/2 pints||5-6 pounds||4-5|
|1 quart||6-8 pounds||6|
|1-1/2 quarts||8-10 pounds||8|
|2 quarts||10-12 pounds||10|
|3 quarts||12-15 pounds||12-14|
|4 quarts (1 gallon)||15-20 pounds||18-20|
Be sure to remove the stuffing from leftover meat, poultry or seafood, and store it separately in the refrigerator. Leftover stuffing will keep up to two days in the refrigerator and up to one month in the freezer.
Leftover stuffing can be fluffed, wrapped in foil (or placed in a baking dish), dotted with softened butter and reheated in the oven 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Use stuffing and dressing leftovers to stuff tomato, onion, or squash halves.
Stuffing and Dressing Cooking Tips and Hints
Expand your horizons and think beyond simply bread as a stuffing. Rice, barley, fruit, nuts, bulgur, couscous, vegetables, and seafood make excellent candidates as a stuffing base. Here are some cooking tips and hints for making stuffings and dressings:
• For stuffings using bread, do not use fresh bread. Cut bread into cubes and dry in the oven at a low temperature (275 degrees F.) until dry, about 15 minutes. The same advice goes for making your own cornbread stuffing.
• Bread end pieces are great to save for making stuffing, and don’t limit yourself to plain white bread. All types of bread are suitable, restricted only by your own particular tastes.
• If you are using old bread without drying it out, reduce the liquid in the stuffing recipe or you will end up with mush.
• Any variety of rice also makes an excellent stuffing, but the rice needs to be cooked first. Vegetables such as onion, garlic, celery, and mushrooms can be lightly sauteed before adding to the mixture.
• Stuffing should be prepared just before using, not in advance.
• Toss stuffing mix gently so that it doesn’t compact. Spoon the mix in lightly; never push it down. Stuffing will expand during cooking, which could rupture the bird, fish or roast being stuffed.
• Never use raw pork in a stuffing recipe. Be sure to saute pork first until no pink remains, cool slightly, and then add to your mix.
• How much stuffing do you need? Plan on 1/2 to 3/4 cup serving of stuffing per person. For amounts needed to stuff chickens or turkeys, refer to the Stuffing Chart above.
• Excess stuffing can be placed in a greased baking dish and put into the oven about an hour before the rest of the meal is done. In fact, many prefer stuffing cooked separately from poultry, and the FDA recommends it.
• Rich, flavorful stuffings are best paired with foods that have a more mild flavor. Wild game and more flavorful meats, fish, or vegetables should be stuffed with a mild stuffing.
• Sage is a time-honored spice for most poultry stuffings, but feel free to experiment.
• For a very moist poultry breast, push stuffing between the skin and the breast meat and roast as usual.
Never stuff anything until just before you are ready to put it in the oven. The potential for foodborne illness is extremely high with stuffings. It’s a breeding ground for bacteria if left for even an hour before cooking. You may be tempted to stuff your entree ahead of time and freeze it as a timesaving measure. Don’t do it!
Although you can purchase pre-stuffed foods at the market, commercial food manufacturers have access to preservatives and vacuum packing methods which are unavailable to the home cook.
Don’t take any chances.
Always use an instant-read food thermometer to determine if the food is done. Dressing is done when the internal temperature reaches 165 to 170 degrees F.
Stuffing and Dressing Photo ©2004 Melissa d’Arabian/Walmart