"If you stuff it in the bird it is stuffing. If it is served on the side it is dressing."Meathead
Here's a very traditional stuffing recipe perfect for turkey or for stuffing a pork loin roast (above). It was inspired by a recipe from my former student and teacher, David Rosengarten. He was a student in my wine classes at Cornell, and I call him my teacher because he since became a famous chef, one of the first hosts of the FoodNetwork, author of several cookbooks, and I have learned immensely by listening to him and reading his work.
I like to modify it slightly by adding eggs to make Muffings, my name for Stuffing Muffins. They are baked in muffin pans and they get nice and crispy on all sides. Everyone at your holiday meal gets a Muffing! Here's a fun idea: Jessica Szegedi Gesell runs the blog MommyBistro. She puts her stuffing (with sausage) in an onion! What a great idea! If you are using this to stuff a pork loin or something else, leave out the eggs. Eggs need to be cooked to 160°F to be safe, but pork is best at 140 to 145°F.
Secrets for great stuffing
Start with good bread. The better the bread, the better the stuffing. Go for a rustic Italian loaf or even an eggy challah. Skip the baguette. It has too much crust. But don't eschew crust.
Amp up the veggies by sautéing, roasting, or smoking them first.
Use reduced stock. Moisten the bread with low sodium chicken stock rather than water, and reduce it to really boost flavor.
Use the gravy from my Ultimate Turkey recipe. If you make my recipe for The Ultimate Turkey, and you should, the gravy from this recipe is the best thing to use. Just remove 4 cups from the drip pan while the bird is cooking for the stuffing. No need to reduce that stuff.
Don't stuff the bird. Juices from the bird infiltrate the stuffing (but not as many as you think) and if you do not cook it all the way up to 165°F in the center you could get a tummy ache. Worse, by the time the time the heat travels all the way to the center of the stuffing, the meat will be waaay over optimum, perhaps 180°F, and that is shoe leather boardering on cardboard. Just put just a few sprigs of herbs, some onion, and orange rind in the cavity so the aromatics can season the meat from the inside out. Bake the stuffing in a shallow pan so there is more surface on top to get crunchy while underneath it remains chewy. It is like a savory bread pudding.
Stuffing Muffins Recipe
Instead of serving an entire bowl of stuffing, this recipe calls for baking it in muffin pans to get them nice and crispy on all sides. Everyone gets a stuffing muffin, aka Muffing!
Makes. 12 servings, about 3 pounds
Preparation time. Assembly takes 30 minutes, baking takes about 45 minutes
3 pounds Italian bread, sliced
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter (salted or unsalted)
1 1/2 cups finely chopped celery
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup peeled and chopped apple
4 cups low sodium chicken stock or turkey stock
1 tablespoon of dried thyme (2 tablespoons fresh)
2 tablespoons dried crushed sage leaves (4 tablespoons fresh chopped)
1 cup cranberry raisins
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
About the stock. If you have made my Ultimate Turkey you will almost certainly have leftover stock. This is a great place to use it.
To make Muffings. You will need 6 eggs.
1) Slice the bread and grill it over medium heat to dry it out and bring some nice golden toasty flavor to the party. Watch things closely because they can go from golden to burned in a hurry. Cut it into squares about 1/2" on all sides. Precision not required! Leave the crust on.
2) Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the celery and onions and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Add the thyme, sage, cranberry raisins, salt, and pepper, and cook for only 1 minute.
3) Pour the mixture over the bread. Add the apples and stock. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
To make Muffings: Take 6 eggs, mix them with a fork in a bowl, and add them to the unbaked stuffing mix.
4) Put the mixture in a large roasting pan. I use a ovenproof glass pan so I can make sure the bottom isn't burning.
To make Muffings: Spread butter thickly in the wells of a muffin pan and press the stuffing in, mounding it high.
5) To cook on the grill: Set up a grill for 2-zone cooking and preheat to in the indirect side. Bake on the indirect side oven, covered, with foil for about 60 minutes until it is at least 160°F in the center. It should be golden and crisp on top, and firm but not too wet in the center.
To cook indoors: Set the oven to 325°F. Put the roasting pan in the middle or on an upper rack. Don't put it on the bottom rack or it will burn.
6) Bake at 325°F in until the temperature in the center hits a minimum of 160°F and the top starts to brown, about 45 minutes.