Ideas for Making Thanksgiving Stuffing with Cornbread Bread Squares or Toast in a Turkey Cavity or a Baking Dish
By: R. Renee Bembry
Despite its capacity to meld with a variety of dishes, people tend not to eat stuffing during most of any given year. Come the holidays however, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas, most hosts and hostesses wouldn’t dare serve dinner without it. This is because holiday diners almost always look forward to piling on the stuffing and pouring on the gravy when serving their holiday plates. As with any dish, you can make stuffing in several different ways.
The Main Cornbread Staple
You can make an easy stuffing simply by tossing applicable ingredients together, placing them in the turkey cavities or a baking dish, and proceeding to bake the stuffing for the required amount of time.
Begin the process using toasted slices of bread, prepared cornbread, or bread cubes from the supermarket. Either of these methods would provide the basis for a good stuffing. Of course, purchasing packaged bread cubes would be the simplest to do.
Use A Sufficient Sized Bowl
Once you have your main staple, you would place it in a bowl that is large enough to add other ingredients. The bowl should be large enough that it allows you to maneuver all the ingredients so that you can easily stir them. If the bowl is about twice the size of the bread you choose, it should be large enough for the remaining ingredients.
Prepare Cornbread and Giblets in Advance
When choosing to make cornbread for the stuffing basis, mix the cornbread batter and place it in a pan so you can bake it while you prepare other ingredients. In addition to preparing the cornbread, remove the giblets from the turkey and place them in a pan of water so you can boil them. Add enough water so that you cover the uppermost parts of the giblets by two to three inches. The extra water will make a nice broth for you to use in the stuffing. Heat the giblets until they begin to boil and then cover the pan and reduce the heat to a low setting. Allow the giblets to cook for at least forty-five minutes to an hour.
Veggies—Some of the most popular ingredients to add to stuffing consist of ingredients that you chop such as onions, carrots, and celery. You can choose to sauté these ingredients prior to adding them to the bowl of bread, however, this is not really necessary, and in fact, if you choose not to sauté them, your stuffing will be more flavorful.
Fruit—In addition to chopped vegetables, you can add fruit to your stuffing mix. Apples give stuffing an added sweet flavor as their juices meld into the bread and mix with the other ingredients. When using apples, peel and core them first. Then chop them just as you chopped the veggies prior to adding them to the bowl.
Next in line come raisins. Adding raisins to stuffing sweetens the dish just as apples do. Raisins do not meld in the same way as apples do, however, instead, raisins add texture to stuffing. A quarter of a cup of raisins works well if you are aiming to make about two quarts of stuffing. Figuring it another way, a quarter cup of raisins would be fine for a medium size turkey.
Choosing Herbs and Other Seasonings
Although many cooks immediately reach for prepared turkey seasoning when flavoring turkeys and stuffing, using your own choice of herbs and other seasonings may fair better than adding premixed turkey flavoring. Using your own ingredients will also set your stuffing apart from the rest—make your stuffing unique. If you choose to add the premixed powered seasoning, however, you could still add a few herbs of your own to personalize the stuffing flavor.
Parsley, marjoram, basil, and thyme add wonderful flavor to stuffing with thyme serving practically as a poultry seasoning necessity. Using fresh herbs is best, however, you can prompt dried herbs to release more flavor at a faster pace by simply rubbing the leaves between your forefinger and your thumb before allowing them to fall into the bowl. Parsley is a delicate herb and you can add two or three times as much as you would add for other types of herbs. About a tablespoon should do the trick for two quarts of stuffing. Marjoram and basil have stronger flavors than parsley so only add about a quarter teaspoon of these. Thyme is a very potent herb so you would only need about half as much thyme as you would basil and marjoram. You can also add salt to the mix. Be careful not to overdue the salt, however, especially if you plan to make gravy. You do not want the stuffing to taste too salty with salted gravy over top. Adding about one half teaspoon of salt to the stuffing mix should be sufficient.
Adding Giblets and Broth
Once the giblets are done, you can (optionally) remove a few pieces of meat from the pan and place them on a cutting board. Allow the meat to cool for about five minutes and then cut the pieces into bite-sized pieces. You may have to pull the meat away from the neck bone using your fingers. Bear in mind that, when adding giblets to the stuffing, you do not need to use all of the giblets, you can save some for the gravy. Either way, add about three quarters of a cup of the giblet broth to the stuffing mix.
Mixing the Ingredients
If you opted for the cornbread stuffing, allow the cornbread to cool and then scoop it from the dish and place it in the bowl. Afterwards, break the cornbread up and thoroughly mix all the ingredients together. If you opted for bread squares or toast, place these items in the bowl so that you can mix them in. Once all the bread (of your choice) is nice and moist and all ingredients are well mixed, place the stuffing in a baking dish or in the turkey cavities. When using a baking dish, lubricate the dish with butter, margarine, or cooking oil just as if you were making a cake. When adding stuffing to turkey cavities, be sure to wash the cavities out before scooping in the mix.
Baking the Stuffing
Cover baking dish and cook stuffing for half an hour to forty-five minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the stuffing in the turkey as you normally would bake a turkey except you should add an additional ten to twenty minutes to your baking time.
Some people like to add eggs to their stuffing with the notion that the eggs hold the stuffing together. This is not necessary, however, because whether stuffing folds out when served or sticks together is not that important. The main things to consider are texture and taste, not clumping.