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~ Culinary Q&A & Kitchen Therapy Too (11/12/10) ~

Culinary Q & A #2

Ok, so it's Saturday morning (not Friday afternoon).  I went to bed last night not having any questions for Q&A Friday and woke up this morning with two really good ones! 

Since it's my blog (and I can say and do pretty much whatever I want to here), I'm going post Q&A now, instead of making everyone wait a week for the answers.  I can't promise I'll do this every time questions arrive a little late, but I'll do the best I can.

6a0120a8551282970b015436418497970c-800wiQ.  Gretchen (via Facebook) asks:  I had a busy week and just spent the last hour or so catching up on your posts this week.  I really loved the one for your great-aunt's mashed potato stuffing.  It looks just like the one my grandmom made. After she passed away, we found out no one in the family ever learned to make it.  I'm going to surprise them and make yours for Thanksgiving this year, but I have a couple of questions for you:

(Note:  My recipe for ~ Tettie's Baked-Mashed-Potato Stuffing Casserole ~ can be found in Categories 4, 12, or 18!)

#1)  Why do you call it stuffing casserole and what is the difference, or is there a difference, between stuffing and dressing?

#2)  I've noticed that you use different size eggs in your recipes (some call for large, some call for extra-large, some call for jumbo).  Are they interchangeable?  If not, how do I substitute the sizes?

6a0120a8551282970b01543643900a970c-800wiA.  Kitchen Encounters:  Gretchen, these questions are great (and it is  doubly great to hear from you two weeks in a row)!  You're going to love the stuffing casserole and let me know what your family says about your surprise!!!

For another one of my stuffing recipes ~ Sweet Potato & Apple Stuffing for Poultry or Pork ~ can be found in Categoriey 4 or 18!

#1)  Technically, there is no difference between stuffing or dressing.  They are both well-seasoned mixtures that contain bread, bread crumbs or bread cubes (although rice, potatoes and other vegetables and meats are often added as well).  Both mixtures need to be cooked, and this is where their names come into play:  Stuffing is stuffed into and cooked inside the breast cavity of the bird, while Dressing is cooked separately (usually in a casserole dish) and served as another pretty side dish to "dress up" the turkey and the table!

IMG_6059I stand with my favorite Food Network chef, Alton Brown, on this point:  Stuffing is evil!!!  Well, stuffing itself isn't evil, but from a food-safe standpoint, stuffing the bird is.  By the time the center of the stuffing cooks to a safe-to-eat internal temperature of 165 degees, you will have grossly overcooked your bird, resulting in very dry, almost tasteless, meat.  If you take your bird out of the oven when you are supposed to, when the meat reaches a temperature of about 160-165 degrees (then cover and rest it to allow carryover heat to cook it to a temperature of 170-175 degrees), your stuffing is more than likely:  not sufficiently or fully-cooked.  There is no "gray area" or "middle ground" here, just a bad prognosis.  This is not said to start any arguments with grandmothers across the USA who successfully stuff their Thanksgiving turkeys and do not poison their friends and family, these are just statements of food-safety fact.  In my kitchen, I prefer to stuff my bird with a few aromatics, like rosemary, chopped onion and apple!

IMG_6137On a personal note:  Both my grandmother and my great-aunt always stuffed their birds.  Since no one ever got sick, I can only assume we ate our turkey on the dry side!  That being said, because both of them had large families to feed, both of them always made an extra pan (casserole) of stuffing to serve as a side dish.  This makes perfect sense, considering you can only put about 2-3 cups of stuffing in the breast cavity of a turkey (and I'm gonna eat AT LEAST one cup of it myself).  In our family, I don't recall anyone saying, "please pass the dressing", and if they did, they got the salad dressing.  Kitchen Encounters is going to be posting 2-3 more of my family's stuffing recipes before this Thanksgiving rolls around, and for all of the reasons discussed above, they will all fondly be referred to as stuffing casserole.  So... please pass the stuffing folks!!!

PICT0001#2)  I do use 3 sizes of eggs in cooking and I'm always careful about specifying the sizes I personally like to use in each recipe I write.  When baking, I never stray from the straight and narrow and absolutely always bake using large eggs.  When frying or scrambling eggs, I use whatever size I'm in the mood for or just happen to have on hand.  When developing, cooking and writing my recipes, I use and document what experimentation has taught me produces a better finished result.  If I prepare a casserole using 3 large eggs, then prepare it again using 3 jumbo eggs, and the latter comes out remarkably better in texture, I write the recipe as such.  Because all eggs are not created equal, for best results, I highly recommend you use the sizes specified in my recipes.  However, here is a conversion chart that I hope helps you out in a pinch:


    1                 1                 1

    2                 2                 2

    3                 3                 2

    4                 4                 3

    5                 4                 4

    6                 5                 5  

Enjoy the rest of your weekend everyone, and once again:  To leave a comment or ask a question, simply click on the blue title of any post, scroll to the end of it and type away!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Commentary and Photo courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2010)   


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Kenani -- you are correct. I think I said that in this paragraph:

#1) Technically, there is no difference between stuffing or dressing. They are both well-seasoned mixtures that contain bread, bread crumbs or bread cubes (although rice, potatoes and other vegetables and meats are often added as well). Both mixtures need to be cooked, and this is where their names come into play: Stuffing is stuffed into and cooked inside the breast cavity of the bird, while Dressing is cooked separately (usually in a casserole dish) and served as another pretty side dish to "dress up" the turkey and the table!

I was certified as a gourmet chef and there is a difference stuffing goes into your dish while dressing is made on the side, ask the turkey federation, yes there is such a place.

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