How to stuff poultry including chicken and turkey

stuffing poultry
Stuffing for poultry or other foods usually consists of a mixture of cooked vegetables, herbs, fruit and bread or cereals and sometimes meat as well. Stock is generally used to moisten the mixture and an egg to bind the ingredients together.

The prepared stuffing is then placed into the cavity of the second food item before cooking, and then generally roasted in the oven.
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You can buy whole chickens, turkeys or other birds that have already been pre-stuffed from your local supermarket, which may be handy for convenience. Likewise, stuffing mixtures can be bought in packets, whereby you just add boiling water to prepare the stuffing and then fill the bird with the mixture.

There seems to be some controversy around the subject of stuffing poultry, mainly due to food safety reasons.

If the stuffing has not been prepared correctly or cooked properly, this may lead to contamination and subsequent illness after eating. An over-stuffed bird may result in the poultry meat being under-cooked, which can also cause food poisoning and severe illness.

For these reasons, some people recommend that the prepared stuffing should be cooked on a separate roasting tray from the poultry so that contamination does not occur.

However, if you do choose to stuff your chicken or turkey with your own delicious homemade stuffing, as long as you adhere to the strict safety instructions for preparation of the stuffing and cooking times and temperature, there should not be any problems.

Below we will offer a number of recipes for stuffing poultry, but first we will explain how to prepare, stuff and cook the stuffed chicken or turkey, whilst adhering to the correct safety measures.

If you prefer to do so, you may prepare your choice of stuffing well in advance. However, it is vital that you keep the wet ingredients separate from the dry ingredients right up until you are just about to stuff the cavity of your chosen bird.
To make stuffing, only cooked ingredients should be used. Nevertheless, all stuffing ingredients should be cooled before mixing the stuffing and inserting it into the body cavity of the bird. Warm stuffing can create bacteria and lead to poisoning if subsequently not cooked properly.

Before inserting the stuffing, you should clean the bird thoroughly inside and out with water and then pat dry with a paper towel.

Once the stuffing has been thoroughly mixed together, loosely fill the neck and body cavities, by spooning the stuffing mixture into these areas.

As a guideline, allow ¾ of a cup of stuffing per pound of meat. In other words, if you have a 6 lb bird, you will need 4½ cups of stuffing.

It is crucial that the body cavity is loosely filled with stuffing and not packed tight, as the stuffing will increase during cooking, as juices from the meat are absorbed. Too much stuffing could prevent the poultry meat from being properly and thoroughly cooked.

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After stuffing the bird, you may want to truss it so that the stuffing does not come out during cooking (see: how to truss poultry).

Make sure to check the roasting times of a stuffed bird, as generally you will have to add an extra half an hour onto the cooking time of an unstuffed bird.

Use a meat thermometer during cooking, to ensure that correct temperatures have been reached. Stuffing must be cooked to a temperature of 165°F (75°C), whilst the inner thigh meat of the bird must reach a temperature of 180°F (82°C). If these temperatures are not obtained, the meat or the stuffing will be undercooked and all bacteria may not be destroyed. The bird should remain in the oven until the correct temperatures have been attained.

Sage and onion stuffing

Ingredients
  • 80g / 3 oz of breadcrumbs
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp of freshly chopped sage
  • 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 1 beaten egg
  • salt and pepper
Method
  1. In a small frying pan gently fry the chopped onion with the oil until it is soft.
  2. Place the cooked onion into a mixing bowl and add the breadcrumbs, sage, salt and pepper. Mix together well.
  3. Add the beaten egg to the mixture and bind the ingredients together to form the stuffing mixture.
  4. Immediately loosely stuff the body cavity of the bird with the stuffing and place in a preheated oven.

Sausage and apple stuffing

Ingredients
  • 1 lb (450 g) of pork sausage meat
  • 3 peeled and chopped apples
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 cup of chopped celery
  • 4 cups of fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • freshly chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper
Method
  1. In a large saucepan cook the sausage meat until it has browned, breaking the meat up with a fork whilst cooking.
  2. Drain away the meat juices and fat but leave ¼ of a cup of the juices in the pan to fry the vegetables in.
  3. Transfer the cooked sausage meat to a large mixing bowl.
  4. Fry the chopped apples, celery and onion in the saucepan with the sausage meat drippings for about 10 minutes until all the ingredients are fairly soft.
  5. Remove from the heat and add to the sausage meat together with the breadcrumbs, parsley and salt and pepper and mix all the ingredients well.
  6. Finally, add the two eggs, mix thoroughly to bind and form the stuffing and use immediately.

Mushroom and apple stuffing

Ingredients (for a 6lb bird)
  • ½ lb (225 g) of quartered fresh mushrooms
  • 1 cup of peeled and diced apple
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • ½ a cup of chopped celery
  • 6 cups of breadcrumbs
  • 3 tbsp of butter
  • ¾ of a cup of chicken stock
  • 1 beaten egg
  • ½ tsp of poultry seasoning
  • freshly chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper
Method
  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and gently cook the mushrooms, onions and celery for around 5 minutes.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and add the poultry seasoning and the salt and pepper. Stir evenly into the mushroom mixture.
  3. Transfer the ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, parsley and apples and mix together.
  4. Then, add the remaining liquid ingredients and mix altogether to form the stuffing mixture.
  5. Use immediately to stuff your chosen bird.
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