Mark Bittman ,
Writer of The "Minimalist" column in The New York Times ,
Co-author with Jean-Georges Vongerichten of Jean Georges:
Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef(Broadway Books, 1998),
Author of Fish (Macmillan, 1994); Leafy Greens (Macmillan, 1995)
and How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food(Macmillan, 1998)

1. I recommend that you be pretty conservative with almost all aspects of turkey making for feasts (no cilantro here!), and that includes the stuffing. When you're serving a dozen people or more, many of them kids, you don't want to slave over a fancy stuffing just to hear people say "ick."

2. Anystuffing you make from scratch is going to be infinitely better than the instant kind most people are used to. In How To Cook Everything, I have the recipe for "My Favorite Bread Stuffing" with four suggested possible variations --with Giblets and Fruit; with Sage and Chestnuts; with Sausages; and with Mushrooms.

3. Some stuffings are better cooked outside of the bird. If you want a moist, soft, juicy stuffing, pack it in there. But if you want a clean-flavored, crisp stuffing that can stand on its own as a side dish, consider cooking it on its own. Remember that if you are stuffing the turkey that the temperature of the stuffing needs to reach 165 degrees.

4. Don't skimp on the fat or the seasonings. Lean, underseasoned stuffing is little more than mushy bread.

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