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Stuffing vs. Bread Dressing - What's the Difference?

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So what's all this stuff about stuffing and dressing being one and the same? Not in my book, anyway. When this combination of, usually, toasted bread cubes mixed with sautéed veggies moistened with broth is put INTO another food item like meat, poultry, fish or other vegetables), it's stuffing. When it's baked in a pan alongside a protein, it's dressing. It's a matter of semantics but one that has created some unexpected and disappointing results for members of my household. So I have set some rules -- if you want dressing baked in the bird or some other protein, say "stuffing." If a drier dressing baked in a pan is what you want, ask for "dressing."

That's how I see it, anyway. And stuffing / dressing isn't only made with bread. So my family knows to specify bread stuffing or bread dressing. Because, as everyone but my family knows, it can be prepared with rice and other grains or anything else one's heart desires. There are some hard-and-fast rules to follow, however -- don't stuff the object of your heart's desire and then store it in the refrigerator overnight where bacteria will accumulate and send you to the emergency room quicker than you can say "stuffing."

Some food historians believe the term "dressing" arose during the Victorian Age because the word "stuffing" didn't sound genteel enough. The Oxford English Dictionary defines "stuffing," which dates to 1538 by the way, as "forcemeat or other seasoned mixture used to fill the body of a fowl, a hollow in a joint of meat, etc., before cooking." While the Oxford English Dictionary definition for "dressing" is "the seasoning substance used in cooking; stuffing; the sauce, etc."

The National Turkey Federation says the terms can be used interchangeably, but I stand by my definitions. While the ingredients can be the same, the way they are cooked is not. Here are some of my favorite Eastern European stuffing / dressing recipes.

1. Crab Stuffing Recipe

Polish Crab-Stuffed Salmon Pinwheels or Zrazy Losos i Krab
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
This recipe for Polish crab-stuffed salmon pinwheels is known as zrazy losos i krab. The crab stuffing would be delicious with any fillet of fish.

2. Dried Cranberry Stuffing Recipe

Roast Loin of Pork with Dried Cranberry Stuffing
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
This stuffing features apples and raisins or cranberries and is perfect stuffed into a loin of pork, or turkey or other poultry.

3. Polish Hussar Beef Roast Stuffing Recipe

Polish Hussar Stuffed Beef Roast or Pieczen Huzarska
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
This is a traditional stuffing recipe -- bread, onions, egg, parsley, broth -- with the addition of a pinch of sweet Hungarian paprika.

4. Mushroom Stuffing Recipe

Stuffed Pork Chops
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
I have used this to stuff pork chops but it's excellent with poultry.

5. Mushroom Stuffing Recipe #2

Polish Cod Fillet Stuffed with Mushrooms
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
I have used this mushroom stuffing recipe for cod and other fish, and chicken. Button mushrooms or more exotic mushrooms can be used.

6. Mushroom Dressing / Bread Pudding Recipe

Mushroom Bread Pudding / Dressing
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
This savory mushroom bread pudding is actually a dressing that explodes with the deep, rich flavors of the fruits of the forest. It's a great accompaniment to beef or game dishes and it can be made with rye or white bread. It's great napped with a demiglace, Madeira sauce or other rich, brown gravy.

7. Kasha with Mandarin Oranges and Raisins Stuffing Recipe

Kasha Stuffing with Mandarin Oranges and Raisins
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
This recipe for kasha with mandarin oranges and raisins is so versatile. It can be a side dish, stuffing for roasted meats like veal, chicken, duck, pork or turkey, as a cold salad with vinaigrette, or a main course with the addition of grilled chicken or salmon.

8. Raisin-Almond Stuffing Recipe

Raisin-Almond Stuffing
© Meadaura on Flickr
I have used this raisin-almond stuffing recipe with turkey and it's delicious.

9. Ground Meat Stuffing Recipe

Stuffed Kohlrabi
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
I use this ground meat stuffing recipe for vegetables like kohlrabi.

10. Ground Meat Stuffing Recipe #2

Hungarian Beef Roulade with Boiled Potatoes and Green Beans a la Polonaise
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
I use this stuffing recipe in my Hungarian stuffed beef roll or roulade - husos tekercs. It also features hard-cooked eggs.

11. Bacon-Apple-Chestnut Bread Dressing Recipe

Bacon-Apple-Chestnut Dressing
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
Now this bacon-apple-chestnut bread dressing is not a stuffing, in my book, because it is baked "unstuffed" in a pan. Although, I think it can become a stuffing with good results.
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