By: Anne Hynes
A brief survey of the Sanagan's kitchen staff reveals that the 'best' part of the Thanksgiving meal is the stuffing. There is something both satisfying and decadent about it. Even though it is very easy to make it is usually reserved for special occasions like the holidays. There are very few rules about what ingredients are used – bread or rice (for a gluten-free option), textural elements like onion, fruits and nuts, herbs like parsley, sage and summer savoury (a must according to East Coasters), and possibly meats like sausage or giblets – it is up to you. Just make sure it is well seasoned.
The big question though is whether to stuff the bird or not. What to consider when stuffing the cavity is that poultry can have harmful bacteria on its surface, which will be killed by cooking it to 165 ˚F. Making sure that the stuffing is completely cold before being put inside the bird is important because bacteria thrive in warm moist environments. This is why the poultry should be stuffed just before putting it in the oven. Also, do not over stuff the cavity, as it will take longer for the stuffing to come up to temperature, which could mean over cooking the turkey. Taking the internal temperature of the stuffing, as well as the turkey, with an insta-read thermometer is a must if you go this route.
An alternative approach is to cook the stuffing separately in a greased casserole, during the last hour of roasting your poultry, covered for 45 minutes and uncovered for the last 15 minutes. To remedy the loss of juice from the bird, a few tablespoons of pan drippings can be stirred in before serving. Or, do what one of my favourite chefs, Ted Aleck, does and cook a few extra turkey thighs or wings overtop the stuffing so that you get that more intense flavour and extra dark meat. This way there will definitely be enough for seconds!
Here is the Traditional Stuffing recipe that we make at the store. If you don't have time to make your own, place an order for some when you order your turkey as it sells out quickly!
Sanagan's Traditional Stuffing
4 cups crust-less sourdough bread, 1 inch dice (approximately 1 loaf)
1 cup onion, minced
2 stalks celery, ¼ inch dice
1 medium carrot, ¼ inch dice
2 tbsp butter
1 - 1½ cup chicken or turkey stock
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp sage, finely chopped
½ tsp thyme, finely chopped
½ tsp rosemary, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375˚.
- Melt butter over medium heat and cook carrots, celery and onion until tender but not brown. Let cool slightly.
- Place bread cubes in a large bowl and add vegetables and chopped herbs.
- Start by adding 1 cup of stock and mix into bread mixture, pressing bread into liquid to absorb but not letting it disintegrate. Add more stock if needed. Season mixture liberally with salt and pepper.
- Spread mixture evenly on to a parchment lined baking tray. Cook for 10 minutes, then rotate tray and cook until bread starts to get brown around the edges, about another 5 – 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before checking the seasoning.
- Let cool completely before using.
Recipe makes enough to stuff one medium sized turkey or 2 chickens (approximately 8 servings).