What is the difference between a stuffing and a dressing? Most cooks today prepare a dressing, which is cooked outside the turkey. Stuffing is literally stuffed into the turkey and cooked while inside the bird. However, traditional stuffing has to be cooked at such a high temperature (since it contains turkey giblets) that it dries out the turkey. Dressings, on the other hand, can be prepared quickly at the last minute and left up to the packaging company to season. But you can always add a little something to make it your very own.
Sauté some comments and celery to add a little more flavor and moisture. Apples add a healthy fruit and more moisture without adding much in the way of flavor. Raisins add a touch of sweetness. Avocados with some broth allow you to cut back on the butter, while adding a healthier fat and more moisture. Nuts, such as walnuts or almonds, and seeds, such as sunflower, fennel or sesame seeds, add that all important crunch, fiber and protein. If you want even more flavor, do not forget to dry roast them in a pan ahead of time.
Cranberries are often included as a side on Turkey Day, but there is no reason not to add a bit of fresh cranberries or cranberry jelly to your dressing. Once again it will add a flavor that will blend with the rest of the meal and increase the moisture content. If you are really feeling adventuresome, add bok choy instead of celery or even diced up jicama.
If you live in the Southwest, you may want to add a little heat to your dressing. Cayenne pepper is an obvious choice, but cloves can sometimes add a bit of heat, too. Stir your apples or jicama in allspice, cloves and lemon juice before adding to the mix. Blend in a little cayenne and cumin with your avocado, if you use that instead of an apple.
There is nothing to prevent you from giving your dressing an Asian flare with curry, Chinese five-spice and ginger seasonings or an Italian hint with marjoram, rosemary and thyme. These latter spices along with savory and sage are the traditional flavors that make up the spice blend known as poultry seasoning, which is often used in dressing.
If you are having a white wine with your meal, feel free to add a touch of the same wine to your dressing or stuffing. Without making your life any more difficult, you can easily add any of the above ideas to your packaged dressing. After all that is what spices and herbs are all about, adding flavor, vitamins and nutrients. And now for something completely different …