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In cooking, Stuffing is a very broad term.


There are generally four types of Stuffings/Forcemeats, those made with vegetables, with Meat, Game or Poultry, with Fish or Seafood, or with Egg Yolks. The technique of stuffing has been around since Roman times.  Given all that time and our restless creative minds, over the years we’ve come up with countless types of forcemeats/stuffings and lots of ways to make the process happen.  One of the best known is an extravagant dish called a Turducken, in which a deboned Chicken, Turkey and Duck are stuffed inside one another and the gaps between the three meats are filled in with one or more types of bread or grain-based Stuffing.

 But Turducken doesn’t hold a candle to its French precursor, the “rôti sans pareil” (“incomparable roast”) first described by French gourmand Grimod de la Reynière in his Almanach des Gourmands in 1807.  The dish, which Reynière notes has antecedents in early Roman times, consists of a Bustard (an Old World game bird) stuffed with a TurkeyGoosePheasantChickenDuckGuinea FowlTealWoodcockPartridgePloverLapwingQuailThrushLarkOrtolan Bunting and Garden Warbler.  Need we say more?

Culinary Uses

It most commonly refers to a mixture of seasoned BreadRice or other Grain used to fill other foods.  The stuffed food items are often cooked after they are filled, though there are many exceptions such as Deviled Eggs, pre-cooked Pastry Shells, or raw Vegetables that seem designed to be stuffed, such as Cherry Tomatoes or stalks of Celery.

We are most familiar with Stuffing as a Holiday Side Dish made of seasoned Bread, Cornbread or other Grain that accompanies Poultry (TurkeyDuck or other Game Birds).  These stuffings are well seasoned with a variety of Herbs and Spices, and can include a wide range of other ingredients such as SausageHamOystersCheesesNuts (Chestnuts is a favorite), all types of OnionsGarlicMushroomsCelery or other Vegetables, fresh or dried Fruit such as Apples, CherriesApricots, etc. The Stuffing is often moistened with StockWineFortified Wine such as Sherry or PortWhiskeyBrandy or a flavored Liqueur.

In many parts of the American South, Stuffing is called Dressing.  Some people make the distinction that a mixture cooked inside the Turkey cavity is called Stuffing, and one cooked outside or separately is called Dressing. We aren’t going to get into a duel over that one and can work with both names.

Forcemeat is also sometimes called “Stuffing,” especially when referring to the contents that are stuffed into a Sausage Casing to Make Sausage. In France, Forcemeat is considered a little more complex and refined than Stuffing.  For example, a French Forcemeat recipe might involve Puréeing some of the ingredients, Binding them with Egg Whites or using a Thickening Agent such as a Roux or Panada. The ingredients in a Stuffing recipe would likely be simply mixed together, with the Starch in the Bread or Grain acting as its Binder.