by Cat, Nov 2013
Includes: 1. Researching recipes; 2. My conclusions; 3. Adjusted Rosemary & Apple Stuffing Recipe (for testing)
Yesterday was Thanksgiving and I made a small dinner for myself: Roasted Game Hen with Rosemary Apple Stuffing. It was good but the stuffing wasn’t quite right – I don’t think it had enough moisture – only that from the celery and onions. On the other hand, whenever I’ve added chicken broth to a stuffing in the past, it was too gluey. There has to be a middle ground.
So I’m researching stuffing recipes to get a better idea of what is needed. Broth? Eggs? Cream?
Researching the question: Broth? Eggs? in poultry stuffing
NOTE: while many call the stuffing ‘dressing’ if it is cooked separately from the bird, I get it confused with salad dressing. Therefore whether cooked inside or outside the bird, I call it ‘stuffing.’
From Fine Cooking.com:
- Classic Bread Stuffing (1) uses ratio of 2 – 2 ½ tsp broth per cup cubes (if cooked inside bird); or 1 ½ – 3 Tbsp per cup of ¾” cubes if cooked separately from bird
- New England Bread Stuffing (2) uses ratio of 2 Tbsp broth and less than ¼ of an egg per cup of ¾” bread cubes.
- Harvest Bread Stuffing (3) uses ratio of 3 – 5 Tbsp broth and less than ¼ of an egg per cup of ¾” bread cubes
- Bread Stuffing with Fresh Herbs (4) uses ratio of 3 – 5 Tbsp broth and less than ¼ of an egg per cup of ½” bread cubes
From Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook (5):
- Basic Stuffing (5) uses ratio of ½ – 1 Tbsp broth and no egg per cup of bread cubes.
- Herb stuffing (5) uses ratio of about 4 tsp broth and no egg per cup of bread cubes.
Betty Crocker’s Cookbook/website:
- Basic stuffing (6) uses no broth and no eggs, but the recipe is only for stuffing the bird (not cooking stuffing in casserole dish).
- Classic Bread Turkey Stuffing (7) says the broth is optional, advising: “For dry stuffing, add little or no liquid. For moist stuffing mix in lightly with fork just enough chicken broth to moisten dry crumbs.”
Online forums: Serious Eats’ Stuffing—eggs or not (8) and Chowhound’s Stuffing/Dressing – do you add an egg (9) have responses that indicate:
- Eggs are optional;
- Adding stock/broth is more important than eggs;
- Bread has enough starch to ‘glue’ the stuffing together without the eggs;
- Egg is more important when the bread mix is cooked separately from the bird (dressing), than when cooked in the bird (stuffing).
I think I’m getting the gist of the issue. Stock/broth is more important than egg, and egg is more useful in stuffing cooked in casserole dish than it is when cooked inside the bird.
- If the stuffing is cooked inside the bird, you need less (or no) added liquid because it gets liquids from the bird; and more liquid if it is cooked in a casserole dish.
- Egg may be added to stuffing that will be cooked in a casserole dish to help hold it together, or for texture, but is not needed for stuffing inside a bird.
- Amount of broth (for stuffing in casserole dish): for 1 cup of bread cubes, start with 1 Tbsp, and gradually increase to as much as 5 Tbsp if bread is really dry.
- Amount of broth (stuffing in the bird): for 1 cup of cubes, if bread is not dry, you may not need broth; if bread is dry, start with 2 tsp and gradually increase to as much as 3 Tbsp.
Adjusted Rosemary & Apple Dressing
I’ve adapted the crouton method from The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas. First you make the croutons, and then you make the stuffing using the croutons.
This makes about 2 cups stuffing baked in a casserole dish, for my recipe Roasted Game Hen with Rosemary Apple Stuffing. If you use it to stuff the game hen, you may need less or no broth. See testing, below.
- ¼ cup (half stick) unsalted butter
- chopped leaves of 1 small sprig fresh rosemary
- leaves of thyme from 1-2 sprigs
- ½ garlic clove, minced
- ¼ tsp unrefined sea salt, or to taste
- 3 – 4 slices stale but not dried whole grain or cracked-grain bread (enough to make 2 cups of ½” cubes)
- Allow ¼ cup butter to soften in a small bowl.
- Mince fresh rosemary and thyme leaves. Mince garlic, sprinkle with salt, then press to a paste with the side of your knife blade. Let rest a few minutes, then mix rosemary and garlic into softened butter.
- Spread thinly on both sides of bread, then cut bread into cubes. This is a bit tricky especially if the bread is fairly soft. Save any unused butter mixture to add to the stuffing.
- Toast cubes: Arrange on a baking sheet and toast in oven preheated to 350° – 400°F for about 15 – 20 minutes, tossing around occasionally so all sides get toasted; or toast in a cast iron skillet, stirring/tossing so all sides get toasted.
- Stuffing (cooked in casserole dish
- ¼ small sweet onion, finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery with leaves, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp scallion, chopped coarsely
- 2 Tbsp homemade Chicken Stock, or more as needed (used 4 Tbsp when testing, but each batch is different)
- unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 honey crisp, Macintosh, or other apple, diced
- Place leftover butter mixture from croutons (2 Tbsp butter) in skillet over medium heat; add onion, celery, rosemary and thyme, and sauté until begins to soften; add ¼ tsp salt and the chopped garlic; cover skillet, reduce heat to low and cook until soft, and some liquid has been released.
- Add toasted bread cubes to skillet and stir over low heat until combined. Cover with lid for 5 minutes.
- Transfer to buttered casserole. Add chopped scallion and drizzle chicken stock over and mix well, adding more stock as needed for mixture to be moist but not wet. Set aside until ready to cook; then stir in diced apples and cover with lid or aluminum foil.
- Bake in 375°F oven (alongside bird) for 30 minutes, then remove lid; check for moisture content and add more stock if mixture is too dry. Bake without lid for another 15-20 minutes until stuffing begins to brown.
Dec 1, 2013: Mixed up butter/garlic/herb mixture and spread on both sides of 3 slices cracked wheat bread. The bread is quite soft, even tho almost a week old, and it tended to tear under the pressure of the spreading knife. And then when both sides were buttered, the underside tended to stick to the cutting surface as I cut the cubes, then left some of the butter on the surface when I removed the cubes. Put cubes in 375 oven, tossing cubes each 5 minutes for 20 minutes; cubes are nicely golden brown.
I had about 1 Tbsp leftover butter mixture (from the croutons), including that which stuck on the cutting surface, so I added another 1 Tbsp butter to use for sautéing the celery and onion for the dressing. Sautéed over medium-low heat, then lowered to simmer and stirred in croutons. Covered and let simmer for a few minutes, then transferred to bowl and mixed in broth and apple using my hands; used total ¼ cup broth; it is so buttery that it’s hard to tell if what I feel is ‘wet’ or ‘oily’. Stirred in leftover stuffing from Thanksgiving batch, then transferred to baking dish and covered with foil. Into 375 oven to bake 30 minutes; removed cover (and put leftover covered game hen in oven). Removed dressing and hen after 20 minutes and let them rest about 7 minutes. Texture of dressing is perfect and very tasty. Success!
- Fine Cooking’s Classic Bread Stuffing: finecooking.com/recipes/classic-bread-stuffing.aspx
- Fine Cooking’s New England Bread Stuffing: finecooking.com/recipes/new-england-bread-stuffing.aspx
- Fine Cooking’s Harvest Bread Stuffing: finecooking.com/recipes/harvest-bread-stuffing.aspx
- Fine Cooking’s Bread Stuffing with Fresh Herbs: finecooking.com/recipes/bread-stuffing-fresh-herbs.aspx
- Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook (no publication year is given but is likely 1970s or early 1980s)
- Betty Crocker’s Cookbook , 1989
- Betty Crocker’s Classic Bread-Turkey Stuffing: food.com/recipe/betty-crockers-classic-bread-turkey-stuffing-44938
- Serious Eat’s Stuffing—eggs or not: seriouseats.com/talk/2009/11/stuffing—eggs-or-not.html
- Chowhound’s Stuffing/Dressing – do you add an egg?: chowhound.chow.com/topics/668319
- The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas, Copyright 1972 and published by Random House, Inc., New York