Canadian Thanksgiving is next Monday, October 12th and our neighbour, the USA, won’t be celebrating it till Thursday, November 26th. It is officially turkey season! When it comes to a Turkey dinner, there’s a mandatory side dish of stuffing or is it dressing? Wait – isn’t it the same thing?
To help you remember what to call your side dish is a very simple rule. Stuffing is stuffed and cooked inside the bird while dressing is often baked outside in a separate casserole dish. Pretty simple right? Not entirely.
There are a few things you have to keep in mind when it comes to cooking stuffing. First and foremost, if you choose to stuff your turkey, make sure the internal temperature reaches 165°F! The warm and moist stuffing makes it an optimal environment for bacteria to multiply so make sure you check the temperature before serving. There is a possibility that this may result in overcooking the bird. Needless to say, dressing is the safer choice of the two.
For the best of both worlds (and if you insist of digging out the stuffing in front of all your guests), Alton Brown, creator and host of the Food Network’s Good Eats and currently the host of Cutthroat Kitchen, shared the best trick in his book Good Eats: The Early Years.
The way I see it, cooking stuffing inside a turkey turns the turkey into a rather costly seal-a-meal bag. If you’re a stuffing fan, I suggest cooking it separately (in which case it’s “dressing,” not stuffing) and inserting it into the bird while it rests. Odds are no one will notice the difference.
Now that we’ve covered the difference between stuffing and dressing, let’s talk about the stuffing itself. The Betty Crocker’s Classic Bread Turkey Stuffing consists of cubed bread, onion, celery, mushroom, salt, pepper, butter and sage, all cooked in a skillet, cooled and stuffed into the bird. Other traditional stuffing recipes may also call for chicken stock, pan drippings from the turkey, and other fresh herbs. We’ve also tried one from a chicken dish in a Spanish recipe book where chopped bacon, ground beef, Spanish chorizo, ham, spices and seasoning were cooked, then used as stuffing (we replaced chicken with turkey). But here at Fine Choice Food it is all about Asian food, and so we bring you turkey stuffing Asian style.
To give credit where credit is due, our mother came across the idea in a Chinese Magazine years ago. What she did blew our minds! She stuffed fried sticky rice with Chinese sausage, or what we know as “Lo Mei Fan”, into the Turkey. Chinese sticky rice is often a dish you order at dim sum or at a Chinese restaurant and not really something that is cooked often at home.
Before we get into the recipe I found, for those of you who are less adventurous and don’t feel comfortable cooking Chinese, or if you want to try but can’t find all the ingredients, I have a little secret for you. You may be able to order this dish from a Chinese restaurant or find it already made in a Chinese grocery store like T&T Supermarket here in Canada.
After going through a number of recipes, the most authentic “Lo Mei Fan” recipe, with great step by step photos, we found was on The Woks of Life. Make sure you let it cool before stuffing the stuffing into the Turkey!