Let me announce up front: I’m a stuffer! Always have been. I know, I know . . . we’ve been warned in recent years of salmonella, that might occur from eating a fat-soaked loaf of Wonder bread jammed into the cavity of the holiday bird. The safety valve here is getting the turkey to a 165 degree temperature, when measured with a food thermometer at the inner side of the thigh. But if you want maximum safety, the oven-cooked dressing is the way to go.
Go Light and Easy
Whatever you do, the dressing should be handled lightly and coaxed into the salted cavity (or baking dish) with a gentle hand. My problem with the stuffed turkey is that each year Thanksgiving ghouls, (left over from Halloween, I think), surround the bird fresh from the oven to pick away at the dressing before it ever hits a bowl. Truth be known, I lead the raid. Too often, by mealtime, the only dressing left is the overflow, that I baked in a large pan in the oven. I have to admit, it’s nearly as good.
My Preferred Turkey Stuffing
I make a cornbread-sausage dressing. The recipe has a few unique items, (but not as many as Marilyn Monroe’s classic take on the side dish. Apparently, guests will eat most anything if, like Marilyn, you can hoist a 20-pound bird from the oven while wearing a tiny apron and high heels.) But I digress.
I got my recipe from my hairdresser back in the 60s. It calls for a couple cans of Campbell’s Chicken-Rice soup. I still use at least one can—for old-times’ sake—but have moved to the packaged chicken broth. I once made the cornbread portion from scratch, but have returned to the Pepperidge Farm packages, that you see in the stores this time of year.
To that I add a soffritto of onion, celery, and garlic, and a little carrot and apple for sweetness, all sauteed in the drippings from the sausage. The mixture, plus eggs and seasonings, are combined with a variety of toasted breads—sourdough, white, even leftover biscuits. You want the bread dry, not soft.