As Thanksgiving Day approaches, we are left to ponder certain questions that might seem insignificant and/or trivial but can have a profound effect on the success of ones dining experience. If you’re of the traditional mindset and plan to serve up turkey for the feast, there are a few questions you should bear in mind before serving up your bird. To borrow (loosely) from William Shakespeare

To stuff or not to stuff, that is the question.

It’s one of the dilemmas that we all face and naturally the decision is based largely upon ones personal preferences. There are however, some general rules that you might want to consider that might help you make your decision.

First of all, if you're deep frying, grilling or smoking the noble bird, I’d recommend that you omit the stuffing. Wait, that’s not entirely correct. Go ahead and prepare your favorite stuffing on top of the stove or in the oven and serve as normal. This is because when using these other methods, the turkey normally would cook faster than the stuffing would.

If you're going to use the tried and true method of cooking your turkey in the oven, I’d say go ahead and stuff the bird.

Okay, I’m gonna stuff it, what should I do?

Unlike certain other things in life, you just don’t cram it in there and hope for the best. There is a certain finesse/technique involved…

First of all, prepare your stuffing just before you pop it into the bird. Naturally your prep time will depend on which of the multitude of stuffing recipes that are available. Either follow a tried and true one or if you’re in the mood, go ahead and experiment. For the most part though, most stuffing recipes ( by that I mean those not out of the box, ala Stovetop Stuffing) will consist of sautéed veggies, bread crumbs, cooked meats/oysters, pasteurized egg products or nuts.

Make sure your bird is defrosted and remove any of the giblets that might have been placed inside the bird’s cavity. Rinse and dry the bird, both inside and out. Just before you get ready to roast the bird, place the stuffing inside. Do not try and save some time by stuffing the bird the night before.

How much stuffing should I use?

Good question. A general rule of thumb is that one should use approximately ½ to ¾ of a cup of stuffing for each pound of turkey. Please take care and do not pack the stuffing inside the turkey too tightly as the stuffing will most likely expand during cooking. Exploding turkeys, while fun to look at, do not make for a tasty meal and are a real pain in the ass to clean up.

How will I know when the stuffing is done?

Once again, it depends on the recipe that you choose. For the most part though, the stuffing is done when the turkey is done. You can tell by inserting a meat thermometer next to the thickest part of the turkey (usually the thigh) and it reaches 180 Fahrenheit or (80 Centigrade). Your stuffing should clock in at about 160 – 165 degrees. Remove the bird from the oven and let it sit for about 15 minutes or so. This will ensure that it keeps cooking after it has been removed from the oven.

Remove the stuffing from the bird (careful, its gonna be hot!), and place in a appropriate serving dish and enjoy!!!

As a side note: To any noders living or passing through the vicinity of Columbus, Ohio on or around Thanksgiving – you might want to take a look at my home node.

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