Nov 11 2011

What’s Cooking: Stuffing the Turkey Or Not

(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Don’t stuff the turkey, stuff a pumpkin. Most chefs, and one of my personal favorites for cooking turkeys, Alton Brown, do not recommend stuffing the turkey for numerous reasons, the main one is salmonella:

   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.

And really, you can’t tell the difference in the flavor of either the turkey or the stuffing. Stuffing can be put in a pan or decorative baking dish to bake but I came across a decorative idea from the New York Times Dining & Wine section: Roasted Stuffed Pumpkin. The dish is vegetarian friendly and gluten free. It can also be baked in smaller pumpkins or squash to make individual servings, just adjust the baking time.


   1 6 1/2- to 7-pound sugar pumpkin, or other pumpkin suitable for eating

   1 tablespoon vegetable oil

   1 onion, finely chopped

   3 cloves garlic, 2 minced, 1 halved

   1 cup dried cranberries

   1 teaspoon ground ginger

   1 teaspoon allspice

   1/4 teaspoon saffron threads

   Finely grated zest of half an orange

   2 cups basmati rice

   4 cups vegetable stock



1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Fill a kettle with water, and bring to a boil. About an inch below the top of the pumpkin’s ”shoulders,” about where it would be cut to carve a jack-o’-lantern, slice a lid from top of pumpkin, and set it aside. Remove seeds and fibrous flesh from inside.

2. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the oil, and sauté the onion until it is softened. Add 2 minced garlic cloves, and sauté for 30 seconds. Stir in the cranberries, ginger, allspice, saffron and orange zest. Add the rice, and stir until it is glossy. Pour in stock, and bring to a boil. Cover, and reduce heat as low as possible. Cook for 15 minutes. Meanwhile rub the inside of pumpkin with cut garlic clove, and rub with some salt to taste.

3. When rice has cooked for 15 minutes, it will be damp and not very fluffy. Adjust seasoning to taste, and spoon into pumpkin cavity. Press lid firmly on top. It may sit above stuffing a bit like a jaunty cork. Wrap bottom two to three inches of pumpkin in a double layer of foil to protect it from contact with water during baking. Place in a roasting pan, and add about 1 inch of boiling water to pan.

4. Bake the pumpkin until it is tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 1/2 hours. (If there is resistance when pumpkin is pierced, allow more baking time.) To serve, remove pumpkin from pan, and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes. Discard foil, and place pumpkin on a serving platter. Slice into segments like a cake. Place a wedge of pumpkin on each serving plate, and mound with rice stuffing.

YIELD: 8 to 10 servings

1 comment

  1. TMC

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