First order of business: stuffing is what goes into the bird and dressing is cooked separately, usually in a casserole dish.
Alton Brown is not against dressing, the mandatory Thanksgiving side of bready, herb-flecked goodness. He is against stuffing. A quote from his new book Good Eats: The Early Years:
When it comes to turkey, Stuffing Is Evil. That's because stuffing goes into the middle of the bird and is extremely porous. That means that as the turkey around it cooks, juices that may contain salmonella bacteria soak into the stuffing, which then must be cooked to a minimum of 165°F in order to be safe. Getting the stuffing to this temperature usually means overcooking the turkey.
The way I see it, cooking stuffing inside a turkey turns the turkey into a rather costly seal-a-meal bag. If you're a stuffing fan, I suggest cooking it separately (in which case it's "dressing," not stuffing) and inserting it into the bird while it rests. Odds are no one will notice the difference.
My family always went the dressing route, but then again, we called it "stuffing." Using the proper terminology can lead to confusion since some people hear dressing and just picture a big bottle of Ranch—and a pan of that coming out of the oven would be gross.
Get The Recipes:
- The Silver Palate's Corn Bread-Sausage Stuffing With Apples
- Mark Bittman's Favorite Bread Stuffing
- Everyday Food's Pecan Cornbread Dressing