A turkey is part of just about everyone’s holiday feast. But as varied are the side dishes, so is the kind of stuffing you can have alongside your roasted bird!
by Cindy Sanchez
Stuffing prep tips
Perhaps you are partial to a bread stuffing… or a meat stuffing, or a fruit and nut stuffing. Whatever your preference, there are a few universal healthy cooking guidelines to follow in preparing your stuffed turkey for your family’s well-being.
Tips on preparing and cooking a stuffed turkey:
- A stuffed turkey takes longer to cook than an unstuffed one.
- Never stuff a turkey until just before you are ready to place it in the oven. By stuffing it too early, bacteria is invited to take hold.
- Placing a roasting bag or a cheesecloth bag inside the turkey cavity to hold the stuffing makes for easy removal of the stuffing when cooking is complete.
- Always stuff the turkey loosely. Compact stuffing will produce clumpy stuffing.
- Close the opening with either kitchen twine and poultry needle or with poultry skewers.
- Make sure the stuffing cooks to at least 165 degrees F.
- Never store a turkey with stuffing still inside. Again, you would be inviting bacteria to grow.
1. Favorite bread stuffing recipe (lowfat)
1/2 cup water
1 onion, chopped
3 cups sliced mushrooms (about 1/2 lb.)
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
4 cups cubed bread
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup very hot water or vegetable stock
Heat 1/2 cup water in a large pot or skillet. Add the onion and cook 5 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and celery and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Stir in bread and spices, salt and pepper.
Lower the heat and continue cooking for 3 minutes, then stir in the water or stock, a little at a time, until the dressing obtains the desired moistness. Spread in an oil-sprayed baking dish, cover and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the cover and bake 10 more minutes.
2. Cranberry-rice stuffing recipe
1/4 cup brown rice – uncooked
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups mushrooms — (1 1/2 lb) sliced
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
Cook the rice in the water until tender, about 1 hour. Sauté the remaining ingredients in a skillet until the celery and onion are tender. Add the rice and stir to blend. Use in chicken roaster or double the recipe for turkey stuffing.
3. Cornbread stuffing with apples and golden raisins
Ingredients for the cornbread
2 large eggs, whites only
1-1/3 cups skim milk
1/2 cup applesauce
2 cup cornmeal*
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ingredients for the stuffing
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dry sherry (optional)
2 cups defatted broth or low sodium chicken broth
Directions for the cornbread
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat an 8-inch-square cake pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine egg whites, skim milk and applesauce. Mix well. Combine the remainder of the dry ingredients and add to the skim milk and egg white mixture. Stir until blended and pour into a prepared pan; bake for 15 minutes or until bread in done. Remove from oven and cool.
Directions for the stuffing
Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and sauté celery and onion until tender. Add spices; remove and put into a large bowl. Add raisins, apples and the cornbread, crumbled. Toss with the broth and sherry and bake covered in a casserole dish previously coated with cooking spray, about 12 to 15 minutes. If the stuffing appears to dry, add more broth. Toward the end of cooking, remove cover to brown.
* Substitute one cup of flour for one cup of cornmeal, if you prefer.
4. Mashed potato stuffing
1 pound high-quality white bread – sliced
milk or water – for soaking
4 pounds potatoes
6 tablespoons butter — softened
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup hot milk
6 tablespoons bacon grease or butter
2 cups onion – finely chopped
2 cups celery – finely chopped
2 eggs – lightly beaten
1 handful celery leaves – chopped
1/2 cup parsley – chopped
1. Soak the bread slices in a deep bowl of milk or water for 15 minutes. Lift them out by the handful and squeeze the liquid out. Tear the bread into small pieces.
2. Peel the potatoes, cover with salted water, bring to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes. Drain. Then add the butter, salt and hot milk, and whip to mashed consistency.
3. Melt the bacon grease in a large skillet, add the onion and celery, and sauté until soft. Stir in the squeezed bread, then combine with mashed potatoes.
4. Add eggs, celery, parsley and pepper.
5. Put mixture into buttered casserole dish. Cover with foil, and bake for 30 or 40 minutes in a 350 degree F oven. Baste with turkey drippings, if desired.
5. Fruit and nut stuffing recipe
18 each whole pitted prunes
1/2 cup dried currants
1 cup raisins
24 each dried apricot halves
1/4 cup bourbon
3 each tart cooking apples, unpeeled, cored and chopped
3 each large onions, peeled and diced
3 each celery ribs, diced
4 tablespoons melted butter
2/3 cup whole macadamia nuts
2/3 cup whole cashews
1 cup unsalted walnut pieces
2 cups whole raw cranberries
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon dried chervil leaves
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 each eggs, slightly beaten
Put the prunes, currants, raisins and apricot halves in a bowl and pour the bourbon over the fruit. Cover bowl and soak overnight. If you are using salted macadamia nuts and salted cashews, put them in a strainer and remove salt by rinsing them under cold water. Dry on paper towels.
Heat 2 tbsp. vegetable oil in a skillet and add the nuts. Toast them, stirring constantly, until golden. Combine the apples, onions, and celery in a large skillet along with the butter. Cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and celery is tender, about 11 minutes.
Transfer the onion mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the macerated fruit and all remaining ingredients. Gently mix the stuffing with 2 large spoons until evenly blended. Set aside the stuffing while you prepare the turkey for roasting. Stuff turkey 3/4 full and roast according to size. (For a 20 pound turkey, that’s about 9 cups.)