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Can you call stuffing cooked separately (outside of the bird) stuffing ?!

I am fully aware of the lurking "danger" but it's not nearly as delicious if cooked separately IMO. I can see if you want a dish that you can serve vegetarians but is there any other reasons why you would choose to do it in that manner?

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  1. I call it stuffing, and I like it better than the stuff cooked inside the bird - nice crispy crust around it, not nasty and soggy. All that bird juice belongs in the gravy!

    2 Replies
    1. re: benbenberi

      Here here!! Exactly why we cook ours outside the bird. We actually put in the slowcooker. And, we still call it stuffing, although my grandma calls it "dressing"

      1. re: benbenberi

        I completely agree! I like having it nice and brown and crispy on top and I can just pour on some of the turkey gravy if I want more turkey taste. But when I make it with a good stock, I certainly don't miss anything in the flavor. The other advantage to cooking it outside of the bird: the sky is your limit to how much you can make! Stuffing is maybe my favorite thing about Thanksgiving (besides the leftover turkey soup) and I want to have lots and lots. And be able to eat the leftovers for breakfast and maybe a late-night snack for days after. haha.

        I guess it's technically not "stuffing" if it's not stuffed into anything, but we've always called it that anyway. I don't think anyone's going to break down our door in the middle of the night and haul us off someplace sinister over it.

      2. I cook mine outside the bird and I still call it stuffing even though technically I suppose it's dressing. I think the name of the dish is largely regional rather than functional. BTW, my mother never puts hers inside the bird, yet calls it stuffing; however, she also makes a version of it with oysters (for my dad - no one else will eat it!) and calls it oyster dressing, even though it's the same dish with oysters added.

        I prefer it cooked outside - inside makes it too wet and there's not nearly enough of the crunchy parts. My recipe is also very rustic, with large pieces of crusty bread and big chunks of roasted shallots, so it's not the usual finer textured stuff that most people use in the bird. I've been spatchcocking my birds the past couple of years anyway, so they're not really stuffable.

        1. We call it dressing. I do not stuff the bird ever.

          3 Replies
          1. re: rasputina

            ditto. (although I did try it once out of curiosity. didn't love it.)

            1. re: rasputina

              It's known as dressing here too. ~ (Made from cornbread and maybe 2 or 3 biscuits). ~ Never in the bird.~ If it were, it would still be called dressing. ~ The stuff made from wheat breads has a name too, but I'll not use it in polite company...........:)

              1. re: Uncle Bob

                Funny but I always thought calling it dressing was just a stuffy name for stuffing. Maybe it's a regional thing. I'm in New England with Midwestern roots on my mother's side. We put ours in the bird with a dish of extra made outside. No one ever touched the stuff in the dish until the bird was empty.

            2. We also call it dressing but ya'll have my permission to call it chocolate cake if you like.

              Don't think I've ever eaten stuffing/dressing cooked inside the bird.

              1 Reply
              1. re: kengk

                We called the stuff in the bird "stuffing" and the same thing that was patted into a casserole dish and baked until crispy on top was called "dressing".
                My mom's was so good that it was yummy both when moist and when crispy.

              2. If you make some turkey stock ahead and use that to moisten the "stuffing," You actually get pretty close to the same taste without the actual stuffing issues. For me those issues are, we smoke our turkey outside so stuffing isn't an option, and I can't possibly get enough stuffing into a bird for the number of people at my table. I have no idea what you might want to call it. The naming convention is pretty much a regional and Victorian thing.

                3 Replies
                1. re: smtucker

                  What a great tip.I will do just that. The best reason for cooking the stuffing on the outside of the bird is ,so that it is properly cooked all the way with no fear of salmonella. and calling stuffing dressing is miss leading. Every one knows what stuffing is, but dressing could be any thing.

                  1. re: Moggiesx2

                    Not if you are from the South, we know what dressing is here. LOL

                    1. re: Moggiesx2

                      Where I am, everyone would assume that if talking turkey, dressing = stuffing.

                  2. I like a moist, and not crunchy "stuffing". :)

                    1. I do both so I can have twice as much as what fits in the turkey. Oysters and chestnuts are standard.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: Veggo

                        There you go!!! Just curious whether you do a potato-something as well? Thanksgiving meal is about abundance so I do mashed/smashed potatoes also.

                        1. re: letsindulge

                          I sometimes make an easy sweet potato casserole, with cream, chipotles, and pecans.

                            1. re: sandylc

                              6 large sweet potatos, baked, peeled, mashed

                              1/2 cup melted butter

                              1/4 cup heavy cream

                              2 eggs, beaten

                              1 canned chipotle chile en adobo, blended with the other liquids (1 chile, not the whole can)

                              1/2 tsp. cinnamon

                              1 tsp. vanilla

                              3/4 cup toasted pecans, plus a few for the top

                              mix, bake 30 minutes @350 in a 9x13 dish

                            2. re: Veggo

                              I do both as well. But my standard is a pretty boring cornbread mixture w/ lots of herbs and veggies. Some people like crisp and others moist - not a problem.

                          1. re: Veggo

                            We do the same for Thanksgiving - stuffed in the bird and a few extra casseroles cooked separately.

                          2. I used to cook mine inside the bird, but frankly found it messy - especially when cutting up the carcass to use for stock afterwards. Now I make it separately & find it just as delicious & makes dealing with the turkey so much easier.

                            As far as what to call it? My mother differentiates the stuffing/dressing dilemma by calling a firm version (one you can almost slice) "stuffing"; softer versions are "dressing". But does it really matter?

                            1. it's all about the pita factor for me.

                              Spend all that time stuffing the bird, just to extend the cooking time to ensure that the bird and the stuffing are both cooked properly, and then get the fun of fishing burning-hot stuffing out of a hot bird, then put it in a bowl to serve it?

                              Nah. Just put it in the crockpot and be done with it -- and the crockpot keeps it hot til the last trip for seconds (and thirds and fourths) is done.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: sunshine842

                                Can I beg your recipe for "crockpot stuffing"? Please? :)

                                1. re: Bacardi1

                                  It's not much of a recipe, really --

                                  A few days' ahead of time, I buy a couple of loaves of good bread (sourdough makes awesome dressing) - I either dry them on the radiator or in the oven - I let them get very hard and crispy.

                                  So bread crumbs - homemade chicken stock, 2-3 eggs, diced celery and onions that I've sauteed til soft, spices (usually thyme and sage - it varies by year!), and since it's the tradition with our family, a couple dozen big fat oysters.

                                  into the crockpot -- 1 hour on high, 4-5 hours on low, or til it reads 160F on the thermometer. last year I forgot to turn it down, so it was 2 on high, and 2-3 on low. Came out fine.

                                  I tried it after reading about it here on CH -- it's great, because it frees up your oven, too!

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    Can you give a ballpark ratio of chicken stock to dry ingredients? (And I wouldn't be adding the oysters.) Like, is it somewhat soupy when it goes into the crockpot?

                                    1. re: Bacardi1

                                      No, it's not soupy -- it's one of those recipes that I learned by watching my grandmother and great-grandmother, so I'm not sure there's ever been a measurement! And feel free to adjust - sometimes I use shallots, sometimes I use parsley -- it's just a base recipe to build on.

                                      A lot of it depends on how dry the bread is -- if it's really dry, you'll (logically) need more broth than if it's just a couple of days old and a little stale.

                                      You want the pieces of bread to hold their shape, but you want them to sort-of stick to each other, rather than staying crumbly and as individual pieces.

                                      I don't know if this will help, but you want it wetter than Stovetop stuffing, but not to soupy or gloppy. (I know - that's not very technical -- but I was taught to add liquid until it looks like that....)

                                      For my big 6-quart crockpot (we're 25-30 for dinner, plus seconds and leftovers, so it takes a vat!), I'll go through a quart or two of broth -- it takes a lot of liquid to rehydrate all that bread!

                                      But err on the side of caution -- it will dry out some as it cooks, and you can always stir another ladle of stock in if it's looking too dry as it begins to cook.

                                      Joy of Cooking says 1 cup of chicken stock and 2 eggs per pound of bread (10 cups of cubes) --- personally, I call baloney - that will be way too dry for my crowd's standards, but it all comes down to how 'wet' you like your dressing.

                              2. You may want more than can fit inside the bird.

                                It is 'stuff' regardless of whether it is stuffed inside the bird or not :) Since there isn't another common name for that type of bread mix, there isn't much of a point quibbling over its name. 'Dressing' is used in some places, but we also pour 'dressing' over greens. I have also heard of 'ramming'. Baked outside the bird, stuffing might fit the casserole or hot dish definition. May be we should adopt 'bread casserole'?

                                The Spanish 'migas' (crumbs) has some of the same ingredients (moistened bread crumbs/cubes, seasonings, etc), but is generally cooked stove top, and kept loose.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: paulj

                                  Here in Pennsylvania German "Dutch" country, they call it "filling". But it's often baked separately.

                                2. I put a little stuffing in the neck cavity and toss this in with the rest of the stuffing that is baking in the oven. I find that it gives it good flavor and some moisture

                                  1. My parents always cooked some inside and some outside, then mixed them in the serving bowl. Some moist and bird-flavored, some brown and crunchy. The bad thing about that for me is that it ruins the carcass for stock.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: sandylc

                                      I always make stock with the carcass of my stuffed bird with no problem.

                                    2. I brazenly and shamelessly call it stuffing, even though I cook it out of the bird. In fact I usually cook 2 or 3 pans of it, because it is so good people demand to take home leftovers.

                                      I start by making a rich turkey stock, and also sauteing the vegetables in goose fat , but that probably wont do for Vegetarians. I also make one pan of Oyster stuffing and one sans the oysters (though the oyster always goes first because its just tastier and richer)

                                      I usually add some drippings from the bird but not much, I save the dripping from the bird for the next time I make stuffing, along with the giblets. I use previous giblets, along with chicken backs and turkey necks, to help make my turkey stock.

                                      And I definitely like to give the stuffing a nice crust.

                                      Anyhow, call it what you like, I just know it tastes good.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: PenskeFan

                                        America's Test Kitchen had the good idea of getting extra wings and roasting them atop pan-baked dressing, to recreate the juices absorbed by stuffing cooked inside the cavity. IIRC, the pan was covered with foil for most of the oven time to keep the broth that moistened the bread from evaporating too much.

                                        1. re: greygarious

                                          The extra wing idea is a good one that I'm going to try. I like my stuffing outside the bird because I prefer the crispy top that forms.

                                          1. re: greygarious

                                            Wow, what an interesting idea. And I suppose you could just take the wings and foil off towards the end and turn the heat up to get the desired crust. And save the roasted wings and then throw them in the stockpot with the carcass when you make the turkey soup. I might try this!

                                        2. "is there any other reasons why you would choose to do it in that manner?"
                                          Not stuffing the bird makes it easier to keep the bird moist and avoid overcooking (especially if you are worried about safety and cook the stuffing to the same high temp as the rest of the bird) and shortens cooking time. And as many others have pointed out, the 'stuffing' gets a crispy exterior when cooked outside the bird. For a flavor boost, you can always pour the pan drippings on external 'stuffing,' if you like.

                                          1. Stuffing inside the bird, dressing outside. At least thats what my Mother & Gran used to say. My family likes moist stuffing in the bird over crispy edged dressing, but I always make a a few stuffing balls with any excess stuffing & bake them for next day left overs!

                                            1. We always called it stuffing in CT. When we moved to MD I thought they were talking about salad dressing when it was listed on school menus or that dressing was another name for gravy. Now that I live in PA stuffing is called filling.

                                              1. Any idea where the name 'dressing' came from? I can see 'dressing' a salad with oil and vinegar. But how does this bread mixture 'dress' a bird?

                                                11 Replies
                                                1. re: paulj

                                                  If you tasted the turkey that the Pilgrims cooked you'd realize that you'd probably need a lot more than mere gravy to dress your bird to make it appetizing.

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    Why would that be? I would guess that 17th century turkeys tasted pretty good! Probably leaner and gamier though.

                                                    1. re: Lady_Tenar

                                                      Mexican guajalote (the probably ancestor of domesticated European birds) is traditionally stewed, and served with a rich sauce (mole).

                                                    2. re: ipsedixit

                                                      so tell us, ipse -- what did the Pilgrims' turkey taste like?

                                                    3. re: paulj

                                                      the term "dressing" was created to appease Victorian sensibilities piqued by the concept of the word "stuffing"

                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                        But it that sense, doesn't stuffing require undressing?

                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                          That's sort of the point -- the Victorians were a pretty dirty-minded bunch, finding innuendo in just about everything-- including putting something inside the cavity of a chicken or turkey.

                                                          (This is the same group that painted clothing on Renaissance nudes and cemented fig leaves over fabulous marble statues, and in some cases, chiseled the dangly bits OFF of statues, lest someone be led to impure thoughts)

                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                            Sounds like they needed to chill out at Plato's Retreat.

                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                              Those Victorians were so sex-obsessed that it was considered prurient to expose the leg of a TABLE.

                                                        2. re: paulj

                                                          Sometimes stuffing is plated around the outside of the turkey forming a ring around the outside and I think of this when I hear dressing.

                                                        3. I always thought we called it stuffing and was shocked to hear my dad insist on dressing, even though we cooked it inside the bird.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Savour

                                                            Being from the south, my mom still calls it "dray-us-ing." Inside the bird.

                                                          2. I make a savory bread pudding with: onion, celery, carrots, chestnuts, mushrooms, grated Parmigiano, herbs, Italian bread, and sometimes milk - sometimes turkey broth. I call it Savory Bread Pudding.

                                                            My mother made a ricotta and egg souffle and cooked it inside the turkey . I don't know how she did it but it was an absolutely delicious light as air confection with all the flavor of herbs and turkey. Her aim was to have it hold together when she removed it from the bird which she usually did perfectly. She called it stuffing.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                              I'm not sure it sounds delicious, but the method is really fascinating!

                                                            2. It is "stuffing" if it is cooked inside the bird.
                                                              It is "dressing" if it is cooked outside the bird.

                                                              There. I'm glad we cleared that up.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: al b. darned

                                                                Sorry, al b., my mom's entire (very large) family will tell you that when it's in the bird, it's called dressing. They don't care if it doesn't make sense.....

                                                              2. Q has been A'd, so here is my rec: Prepare your favorite dressing/stuffing (Pepperidge Farm is fine!), Stuff it into a turkey. Bake in a medium oven until dressing is cooked, Remove dressing/stuffing. Discard turkey. Enjoy!

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: mwhitmore

                                                                  Better yet, replace the turkey with a pumpkin!

                                                                  A REALLY GOOD STUFFED PUMPKIN

                                                                2. I call it stuffing and cook it by itself in a Nesco electric roaster. A few reasons, the nagging about stuffing a turkey not being safe, the turkey gets done faster unstuffed and I can make more stuffing than the turkey can hold. Just bread/celery stuffing, flavored with the neck and broth.

                                                                  1. Answer to the OP - yes.

                                                                    What else would it be called?

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                        In the UK, we'd call it part of the "trimmings".

                                                                        By the by, the Food Standards Agency's advice is that "It is safer to cook stuffing separately in a roasting tin". But we've always cooked it separately - there's never enough time on Christmas Day to allow the extra time to cook the turkey if the stuffing has been, erm stuffed.

                                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                                          for more etymological discussion than you probably care to read: http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodmeats...

                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                            Interesting. I'd never heard of (food) "dressing" before your post - except in the context of a liquid you'd pour over salad . Your link suggests it's a 19th century Americanism although I'm suprised we prudish Brits in that period didnt have a word other than "stuffing" (although a quick Google suggests Mrs Beeton uses "stuffing " and "farce")

                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                              the same article says that "dressing" is used in a culinary sense as far back as the early 16th century..

                                                                              We use "dressing" at our house because it's not stuffed, but the usage varies widely.

                                                                    1. If I type "turkey and dressing" into google I get 25,700,000 hits. "Turkey and stuffing" yields only 14,100,000.

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: kengk

                                                                        probably helped by the fact that "dressing" would therefore include recipes for salads with turkey.....

                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                          Stand by while I go check all 25 million results. Be back shortly.

                                                                        2. re: kengk

                                                                          In Google ngram, 'turkey stuffing' and 'turkey dressing' were equally common until 1970. Now 'stuffing' is about twice as frequent.

                                                                        3. Mom makes it both inside the bird and a huge tray of it cooked outside of the bird, the inside the bird stuffing is always the first to go and no one has ever got sick in the 30 years or so that she's been doing it.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Rick

                                                                            I don't think anyone here is saying that anyone will automatically become ill from eating stuffing that's cooked inside the bird. But I do think that doing so requires more care & attention to safe handling & proper temperatures then when the stuffing is baked separately.

                                                                            1. re: Bacardi1

                                                                              It is not the stuffing that people usually fall ill to but from the poultry that's been undercooked because they've not taken into account the bird is now more solid than it otherwise would be.

                                                                          2. I make two stuffings, one with turkey livers and one without, for #2 son who thinks the livers are icky. The one with goes inside all bird cavities. The one without goes into a casserole dish, and gets squirted with drippings while baking.
                                                                            This year, though, it's just DH and me, so all the stuffing has livers. Yum.

                                                                            1. In my family it was called "dressing." We had dressing cooked in the turkey and dressing cooked separately because there was never enough unless extra was baked. If you make turkey broth beforehand and add it to the dried bread, and bake it with a little turkey meat (buy an extra leg for this) it tastes to me as good as the stuff coming out of the turkey, but perhaps less rich.

                                                                              Not understanding why this has to be an either/or situation. Do whatever you want to. Baked stuffing has always been eaten and enjoyed in my home and no one ever questioned where the stuff was cooked.