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To Stuff or Not to Stuff? Another Solution to Common Turkey Trouble

The controversy over cooking stuffing inside the bird has raged for many a year, but the solution is simple.

On the heels of last week's sumptious recipe came my solution for keeping turkey . But a final question needs to be answered: "To stuff or not to stuff?"

Food safety concerns have raised an argument over whether or not it is a good idea to cook your stuffing inside a bird. The question is what temperature the interior of the stuffing reaches when the meat on the bird is done. The sad truth is that, in side the bird, the stuffing will fall well short of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's recommended temperature for safe eating and cooking the turkey long enough to raise the temperature to the safety zone would surely result in a terribly overcooked main course. I figured out a great solution to this years ago when I started cooking the legs one way and the breasts another, however.

Culinary adventure and an obsession with perfect results drove my choice but there was a windfall as well.

After carving the turkey, instead of chopping up the carcass to use for stock, I started to stuff it and roast it at 425 degrees. The result was a roasty, golden-brown carcass and perfectly moist and full-flavored stuffing. This method became a Thanksgiving staple for me. At home or professionaly, I find the combination of techniques to provide the best overall turkey experience.

Any favorite stuffing recipe will work well. Below I have shared a recipe inspired by the one my father made every year when I was a child. The only change I changed was to add some sourdough to the cornbread, balancing out the sweet characteristics of the cornbread and lending a pleasant textural variation; the more tart the sourdough the better.

Corn Bread Stuffing

Ingredients:

- 1 loaf of sourdough bread, cut in cubes and dried overnight

- 1 batch of cornbread diced and dried overnight

- 2 large onions, diced

- 5 stalks celery, diced

- 1/2 cup chopped sage

- 1/2 cup chopped parsley

- 2 tablespoons chopped savory (rosemary will work)

- 4 cups turkey stock (chicken will work)

- 3 large eggs, beaten

- 2 Tablespoons fat from the turkey roasting or olive oil

- salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat fat in sauce pan and saute onions for about five minutes until they begin to become translucent. Add celery and continue cooking for another five minutes until the celery begins to become tender. Remove from heat and add the herbs. At this point, season to taste. Add the beaten eggs and stock to the vegetable and herb mixture.

In a large bowl, combine the breads and the vegetable/egg mixture. Toss gently by hand (see video), taking care not to smash up the corn bread cubes. Stuff and roast at 425 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. This stuffing may also be made in a casserole.

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