There are so many traditions and variations on stuffing for turkey. My mom loves to experiment and changes a few ingredients each year. I know some cooks love taking shortcuts and using stuffing from a box. I say whatever your family loves best is what you should do. They are the ones that matter:) Before I share a few vintage stuffing tips and recipes, I want to make sure we all know the most recent safety on cooking a turkey with stuff. This is from the USDA:
If you choose to stuff your turkey, the ingredients can be prepared ahead of time; however, keep wet and dry ingredients separate. Chill all of the wet ingredients (butter/margarine, cooked celery and onions, broth, etc.). Mix wet and dry ingredients just before filling the turkey cavities. Fill the cavities loosely. Cook the turkey immediately. Use a food thermometer to make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F.
REMINDER: Remove the giblets from the turkey cavities after thawing. Cook separately.
The stuff recipe below is from the Home Comfort Cook Book published in St. Louis, Missouri in 1948. I love the simple, fresh ingredients that are used and how easy they are to put together. My notes are at the end of the recipe and variations.
4 cups bread
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tbsp. minced onion
2 tbsp. chicken or other fat
1/3 cup hot water or giblet stock
giblets, if desired
Break bread into small pieces and measure, packing down firmly. The bread should be stale but not dry. Add other ingredients, blending together with fork. Last add giblets which have been stewed in salt water, drained and chopped in small pieces. Sufficient for large chicken or small turkey. Use 2 cups bread for 3 pound chicken; 4 cups for 12 pound turkey.
Celery: Add 1/2 cup sliced celery to dressing, cooked until almost tender. Use celery water in dressing. Or cook celery with giblets.
Apple: Add 1 cup or more chopped apples to dressing.
Oyster: Add 1 cup drained oysters to dressing and moisten with oyster liquid plus milk.
Potato: Use all of half mashed potatoes instead of bread. One cup sausage meat may be included.
Rice: Use 3 cups cooked rice and 1 cup bread crumbs; 1/2 cup celery and 1/4 cup sliced green pepper.
Chestnut: Shell and skin 1 pound of chestnuts, cook until soft and put through potato ricer or sieve. Measure 2 cups pulp , add to 2 cups bread crumbs and proceed with recipe.
Cornbread: Use part or all cornbread in place of bread in Poultry Stuffing.
My Notes: I love adding apples and cornbread to my stuffing. I am not a fan of giblets, though I know many, many people are. I'm sure most of you know this, but chestnuts are not "water chestnuts".
The chestnuts referred to here are from the American or Chinese Chestnut tree, and the nut meat is frozen to keep it fresh, unless you have access to a grower and can buy them whole.