How much stuffing to make?
I'm making the stuffing for christmas dinner tomorrow night, and I don't know how much to make. Is it possible to stuff enough inside a 15lb bird to feed 8 people? If so, how much do I need to make? I would really prefer to stuff it inside the bird. I've read all the stuff about it not being safe, but my family has done so for 50 years and nobody's ever gotten sick, and I can't imagine it being even close to as good if it isn't stuffed inside the bird. My mom always ends up making too much, so she has to make a little dish of it on the side too and then we mix it together...
here's my list of inclusions in the stuffing.
A nice round loaf of italian bread
fresh sage, thyme, rosemary
obviously salt and pepper
probably some kind of liquid... (stock, wine)
As far as portions are concerned, I typically figure a cup of finished stuffing for each person at the table. I like to make a little more in case someone falls in love with it or, if I'm lucky, I get a chance to have some a day or two later with gravy. I also find that, from time to time, I have more of the "stuffing" than I can stuff into the bird. That ends up in a baking dish as "dressing" and it too is really good next day.
There's really nothing mysterious about stuffing the bird. The major problem, as I see it, is that people don't know how to use an instant read thermometer and if they check the meat for doneness they neglect to consider that the thickest area of the stuffing has to be at the same safe food consumption temperature as the USDA recommends for the meat.
Some people avoid trying to balance those elements for fear that the bird will be overcooked when the stuffing is safe to eat. It's all in managing time and temperature. If your family has mastered the skill of stuffing the bird - go for it.
I stuff my turkey too, and like your mother if there's too much for the bird I cook some separately - but don't mix it. I also mound some stuffing between the legs before covering turkey with cheesecloth soaked in stock and melted butter. This becomes the cook's treat when the cloth is removed and crunchy bits are all stuck to it. I always do a bird the size you're doing and whether there's six or eight around the table there always seems to be enough stuffing. After all, it's competing with the roast potatoes, cranberry sauce and ocean of gravy.
Anyway, it's better to err on the side of too much. I use a large bag of Pepperidge Farm cubed, because a) I'm lazy that way and b) I'm dealing with so many other things in the kitchen I can't deal with making little cubes and toasting them.
Don't forget to add butter to the liquid - I usually melt some with a bit of stock and madeira to toss with the stuffing.