To Stuff, Or Not To Stuff, Your Holiday Bird

A bone of contention, or at least discussion, at the holidays, is the stuffing of the turkey. Or is it dressing? There are 15,000,000 searches on Google for “stuffing or dressing,” and no end to the debate in sight. Regional language differences and family traditions dictate what you call this holiday dish.

Bread stuffing cooked inside the bird can delicately impart flavor and moisture to the meat, while the delicious natural juices from the meat enrich the flavor and moisture of the stuffing.

When cooked outside the bird (we’ll call this dressing), it can be equally moist and delicious, safely cooked ahead of time, and overall, much easier to control with regard to final moisture and texture. When cooked sans stuffing, the bird will cook faster too.

No matter what you call it or where you cook it, one thing is certain; both versions are tasty, fragrant, comforting, and satisfying … and required for the holidays. Read on for tips and recipes.

Classic Bread-Based Stuffing

Our Wild Boar Sausage and Apple Stuffing recipe is a favorite at Thanksgiving. This versatile bread stuffing is both savory and sweet, with crumbled wild boar sausage and flecks of apple. Try it alongside your holiday bird. Try it inside your turkey. Either way, it’s a winner.

D'Artagnan Food products

When making stuffing or dressing, you have an opportunity to add a few choice ingredients that can elevate the whole meal. Take advantage of the bounty of autumn harvests, and include fresh ingredients such as crisp apples and pears, wild chanterelle and black trumpet mushrooms, or truffles like the White Alba and Winter Black which are available in fall and winter.

This flavorful dressing is beautifully moist and packed with mushrooms. The versatile recipe can be used as dressing or stuffing, made ahead if needed, and could take additions like sausage if desired.


Gluten-Free Stuffing Recipes

While recipes for many holiday dressings tend to build on bread, plenty call for grains like rice or wild rice, or even cooked chestnuts as a primary foundation. Our Chestnut, Walnut and Fennel Sauté recipe is a perfect example.

Confit of Fresh Chestnuts, Walnuts, Fennel and Onions - TA 11-10-10_51.jpg

This easy gluten-free Sausage & Quinoa Dressing with Cranberries is high-protein and so packed with flavor, you won’t miss the bread. Fluffy quinoa is the base with flavorful wild boar sausage, exotic mushrooms, leeks, and a hit of sweet-tart cranberries.

quinoa dressing for blog

For a full-on gourmet departure, fill your bird with a simple loose dressing of just a few choice yet intense ingredients; for example, Wild Boar Sausage and minced bits of turkey liver sautéed with prunes plumped in black tea, and golden raisins darkened in port – you will, of course, throw the port in too.

Not Stuffing the Bird?

If you decide to forgo stuffing altogether, and brave the ensuing riot, or cook your dressing outside of the bird in a baking dish, you can still make good use of the cavity. There is a method of stuffing intended only to add flavor to the meat. Simply place rough chopped onions and carrots lightly sautéed with a sprig of fresh tarragon, or tart apples with the skins pierced, inside the cavity. You then remove and discard these dressings after cooking.

One of Ariane’s favorite things to do when not cooking the stuffing inside the bird is to instead put a few pieces of garlic confit in the cavity. To make garlic confit, melt enough rendered duck fat in a saucepan to generously cover your peeled cloves of garlic, and simmer gently over medium heat until the garlic becomes soft. You’ll be delighted with how delicious these little babies are, without that sharp garlicky edge. Make a big batch and keep them in the refrigerator for everything from spreading on bread to flavoring your mashed potatoes.

Plan the perfect Thanksgiving dinner with one of our turkeys. Order today and choose a delivery date close to Thanksgiving.

One Comment Add yours

  1. m37bruce says:

    I always have it both ways, some in and some in muffin tins, that give them plenty of crust.

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