If, like me, you have your favorite stuffing recipe and would face a table of angry family members if you altered it, you may be tempted to skip this article. Don’t. For one thing, you’ll learn how to improve your stuffing without upsetting family tradition by, say, considering a different kind of bread base or by tweaking the herbs and spices you add. Or you might be inspired to do what I do on the holidays—make two stuffings, one for the sake of tradition and one to try something deliciously different.
The bread you use sets the tone
The job of stuffing is to absorb those delicious juices that are released from the bird during cooking. Though some people make stuffing with grains, I think bread does a better job. My mother used soft, fat loaves of Italian bread in her stuffing, but the possibilities range from everyday white bread to a hearty whole grain, which adds heft and a touch of sweetness. Sourdough makes a slightly tangy and chewy stuffing. Cornbread gives stuffing a light, slightly nutty flavor. A southern friend of mine combines two parts cornbread with one part buttermilk biscuits to make a light and buttery stuffing. Use the kind of bread that appeals to you, but avoid packaged croutons because they taste, well, packaged.
To figure out amount of stuffing you’ll need, estimate 3/4 to 1 cup stuffing per person. I always err on the side of too much rather than too little. After all, leftover stuffing is great on a turkey sandwich.