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Stuffing, also known as “dressing and filling,” is a mixture made of edible ingredients used to stuff the cavity of a food item. However, the stuffing is usually filled inside the food and dressing is applied on the exterior of the food for rendering a crispy flavor or for a particular appeal. Usually the stuffed food is prepared with the help of desired ingredients and seasonings and then, brought together with the main dish before cooking. Examples of popular stuffed recipes are stuffed turkey, stuffed parasol mushroom, stuffer pepper, stuffed tomatoes and stuffed bacon.

Origin of stuffed food
The term “stuffing” was coined in the year 1538 which was later replaced by the name “dressing” in the year 1880, during the reign of Victorian English. Throughout the middle ages, this term was referred to as “farce” (a French translation).

The first ever preparation of stuffed food is not recorded in history. However, the use of this method of cooking has been given elaborate illustration in the ancient Roman cookbook by the name, Apicius De Re Coquinaria. The book contains instructions for preparing stuffed recipes like pig, hare, chicken and dormouse. In addition, the common filling that was used for preparing the above recipes was made from herbs, nuts, vegetables and spelt and organ meats like brain, liver, kidney and different other ingredients.

As per the historical evidences, stuffing was primarily used for filling the cavities of animals only, including, mammals, fish and bird. Popular traditional stuffed recipes of the Roman and medieval period were stuffed chicken legs, stuffed turkey, stuffed goose, stuffed breast of veal. The culinary traditions existing in the-then-period used animals as stuffed food for preparing animal dishes. However, later, vegetables like tomatoes, capsicum zucchini, cabbage, mushrooms were also acknowledged suitable for stuffing.

The process of stuffing
Stuffing is typically prepared from a choice of ingredients including herbs, chopped vegetables, breadcrumbs and spices. These are some of the most common stuffed food, however, additions in the same may be observed for preparing varied stuffed recipes. One of the most popular foods prepared by stuffing is the thanksgiving turkey. The ingredients used may be mixed and cooked on gas before filling it into the bird. A few drops of water or oil may be added to transform the dried stuffing into a liquid paste. One may also choose to roast the stuffed food inside the cavity of the bird. In either ways, the filling must be loose so as to allow it to expand adequately at the time of roasting the bird.

Around ½ cup to ¾ cup of stuffing is considered right for every one pound of the bird. In order to keep the stuffed food away from dripping out of the bird, it is necessary to tie the end region of bird’s legs together with a string.

Popular dishes prepared through stuffing method
In the American, Roman and medieval cuisines, stuffing is used for chicken dishes like stuffed chicken legs, stuffed turkey, stuffed goose and more. Stuffed turkey is a celebrated dish with religious significance. It is popularly prepared in United States and eastern Canada to mark the Thanksgiving Day. Some of the most common stuffed bird recipes are duck, chicken, woodcock, pigeon, partridge and more.

Typically, the Anglo-American stuffed recipes contain combinations of stuffed food like bread, cereals, chopped vegetables, eggs, spices and herbs. These stuffing may be used in preparing dishes like stuffed parasol mushroom, stuffed orange pepper, stuffed tomatoes and more. On the other hand, the Middle Eastern stuffed recipes are based on the combination of rice and meat stuffing, besides the common seasonings and herbs.

In England, the popular stuffing, often known as filling in the region, may be prepared with a combination of sausage meat and onion, apple, sage, herbs and spices. Mashed potato is yet another stuffed food, however used only for making the dishes heavy and rich.
Other than the above mentioned dishes, a mixture of dried fruits and fruits, including dried prunes, raisins, apples and apricots may also be used as stuffing for preparing varied stuffed recipes as well.

Advantages and disadvantages of stuffed recipes
Stuffed recipes are undoubtedly considered rich and luxurious. They are usually prepared to mark the significance of a celebrated occasion, be it of personal, national or religious importance. These recipes, being filled with stuffing, are filling and sufficient enough to control the hunger pangs for considerable hours.

However, stuffed recipes do have a share of their disadvantages which must be considered. It is observed that cooking birds or other animals with fillings may raise safety issues if the stuffing is not cooked well. It is important for the filling to cook with an internal temperature of 165 degree F, so as to kill bacteria and other harmful micro-organisms. Sometimes, the inner filling remains uncooked and as a result, people may fall sick after consuming the dish.