What is the proper texture for stuffing/dressing? Should it be baked covered or uncovered?
A lot of recipes say to bake stuffing for an hour but that seems like too long a time? The recipes I've read don't say whether it should be covered or uncovered. It just says bake for one hour.
Also, why does the bread have to be dried out only to have several cups of chicken stock/liquid dumped back on it to turn it back to mush? Is that the reason for the long baking time? Also what is the reason for adding eggs?
First time on stuffing duty for Thanksgiving! What kind of bread should I use?
I'm really confused! :)
The proper texture is entirely a matter of personal preference. I like a loose, rustic stuffing with big chunks of bread, so I use hand torn baguettes with plenty of crust, just enough stock to moisten and no eggs. Other people like a much more dense, homogenous stuffing, so they use a softer bread to start, add more liquid and include eggs for more binding power.
As for baking time, that's a preference issue too. I bake mine for about 30 minutes covered, then another 20 or so uncovered, so the top can get nice and crisp. If you don't like the crisp part, leave it covered.
I'm sure someone somewhere does not dry the bread first, but it is traditional to do so. When I make stuffing I bake the cornbread, slice it, and cut the wedges apart to expose the moist insides. I then leave the bread out overnight, and it is quite dry the next day. But others do different things. If you buy bread for stuffing in the bags at the market, what you will get is dried bread crumbled or possibly dried bread cubed. I suppose the dried bread would absorb more of the good turkey broth than moist bread would. I imagine the stuffiing/dressing thing got started a long, long time ago as a means to use up stale bread.
I would bake dressing in a covered casserole. If the recipe says to bake if for an hour, then that's what I'd do if I was following that recipe.
You do not have to add eggs, although some people do. Eggs will bind the dressing/stuffing giving a denser product, in which case I would definitely bake it for one hour.
For the first time I'd just buy a bag of Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix and follow the directions. You can buy cornbread or white bread. You can put virtually any thing in stuffing. I use brown rice, a chopped apple, caraway seeds, onions, sage, rosemary, thyme, crumbled cooked sausage--the list goes on and on.
Your product should be savory, not sweet. Someone else will be doing the sweet potatoes and cranberry dish, no? It can be loose, denser, or so dense it slices with a knife at table. I go for a loose dressing myself.
I think the dried out bread allows for better absorption of the stock without it getting mushy. I usually bake mine covered, and then uncover it for the last 15 minutes - this way it has a soft interior but there's still some crunch/bite. i've had good results with ciabatta, marble rye, challah bread - just about anything i could get my hands on