Metro-East Living

5 mistakes to avoid when making stuffing

Thanksgiving dinner is not complete without stuffing alongside the turkey and gravy.

Whether you put it in the bird or a casserole dish to bake, there are still potential pitfalls along the way for getting just the right moisture level and flavor. Here’s some help from to ensure your stuffing is just the right:

▪ Not completely drying out the bread. It’s the base, what gives the stuffing structure, and it plays a big role in determining the texture. When you use bread that isn’t stale or dry enough, you're likely to end up with mushy stuffing.

Tip: Either dry out bread a few days of making the stuffing by letting it sit out or cut the bread into cubes, then toast over a low heat in the oven until dry.

▪ Including too many add-ins. This is one time when more is not necessarily merrier. Add-ins like vegetables, dried fruit, grains, nuts and sausage make stuffing special, but bread is the binder that holds the stuffing together. When the add-ins outnumber the binder, it's tough for the stuffing to stay together.

Tip: Play it safe by using about twice as much bread as other ingredients.

▪ Adding raw meat. It should never be added to stuffing. Even though the stuffing will get baked, it's likely not enough time to bring the meat up to a safe temperature.

Tip: All meat should be fully cooked before mixing it with the other stuffing ingredients.

▪ Over-seasoning. When using items like packaged bread cubes (which often come seasoned), sausage and store-bought stock or broth, it can be easy to overdo it with the salt.

Tip: Taste the stuffing before baking it. This will give you a good idea if you actually have to add any additional salt. You can always add more, but taking it out is pretty much off the table.

▪ Using too much (or not enough) liquid. The key to a good stuffing is using just the right amount of liquid so you get a good contrast of soft and firm pieces. Add too much stock and you'll find yourself with soggy stuffing. Don't add enough stock, and you have an overly dry stuffing on your hands.

Tip: The key is adding a little bit of stock (about a half cup) at a time. Remember, you can always add more. The bread should absorb the liquid, without leaving a puddle at the bottom of the dish.