Although most people question the difference between stuffing and dressing, all would agree that no holiday meal is complete without this delicious, savory side at the table. But a difference there is, and the real question is, does it matter? When you consider that both contain the same staple ingredients - toasted bread cubes or cornbread, diced vegetables, broth, butter, herbs and spices, it's not surprising that people use the terms interchangeably.
In the most technical terms, stuffing is stuffed (literally) inside the cavity of the turkey and cooked there. While turkey juices do make the dish more delicious, it is imperative that everything inside the bird is cooked to at least 165 degrees. Dressing, on the other hand, is almost always cooked outside the bird in a separate casserole dish. Of course, there's the family that prefers to put dressing inside the bird, and another family that loves to have their stuffing on the side.
So, what's the truth? It may simply boil down to where you were born and raised. With some exceptions, in the South, the savory side is typically referred to as dressing. Cornbread is used because traditionally it was a staple in southern homes. In the northern and northeastern states and the west coast, it's almost always referred to as stuffing, with white bread being the starch of choice. There is, however, a notable difference in texture and with all the creative ingredients some cooks add for a twist on the classic - sweet Italian sausage, bacon, bell peppers, dried fruit, nuts, oysters, you name it - dressing and stuffing are a family favorite at holiday meals.
We can't decide on one, so at Fayette County Lifestyle we enjoy both. They are simple and inexpensive to make and whether you prefer dressing or stuffing, you are always right. From our family to yours, we wish you all a wonderful, healthy and tasty holiday season.
Southern Cornbread Dressing
2 cups celery, chopped
1-1/2 cups onion, chopped
8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) butter
4 cups baked cornbread, crumbled
4 cups coarsely crumbled, toasted white bread
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
2 eggs, well beaten
3 cups turkey or chicken broth
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Saute celery and onion in butter until tender. Crumble cornbread in a large bowl. Add toast, salt, parsley flakes, sage, poultry seasoning, pepper and eggs. Add 3 cups broth and mix thoroughly. Place in a greased 9x13 pan. Cover and bake in a preheated 350* oven for 45 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 15-20 minutes until done and lightly browned.
Buttery Herb Stuffing
8 cups toasted bread cubes or store-bought stuffing cubes
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups diced yellow onion
1 cup diced celery
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound sweet Italian sausage (casings removed)
2-3/4 cups chicken broth
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Brown sausage until crumbled and no pink remains. Drain oil and set aside. Saute celery, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, rosemary and sage until celery is tender and onion is translucent. Whisk egg in the chicken broth and add it, along with the sausage, vegetable mixture and parsley, to the bread cubes. Toss all ingredients together until everything is mixed well and bread cubes are coated and moist. Bake uncovered at 350* for 45 minutes until done and crispy on top.
The term "dressing" was pretty much unheard of until the 1850's, when the Victorians changed it from "stuffing". They apparently couldn't stand behind such an offensively crude word as stuffing. Either way, it seems the south embraced it, while the north couldn't be swayed.