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.
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.