In cooking, stuffing or dressing (specifically for poultry) is a substance used to fill a cavity in another food item. Many foods are stuffed, including meats, vegetables, and fruits.
In the Middle Ages, stuffing was known as farce (from the French); the root of the word 'forcemeat'. The term 'stuffing' is first attested in 1538. After about 1880, the term stuffing was replaced by dressing in Victorian English. Both terms are used today, occasionally to differentiate between varieties.
In addition to stuffing the body cavity of animals, including mammals, birds, and fish, various cuts of meat may be stuffed after they have been deboned or a pouch has been cut into them. Popular recipes include stuffed chicken legs and stuffed breast of veal, as well as the traditional holiday stuffed goose or turkey.
Many types of vegetables are also suitable for stuffing after their seeds or marrow has been removed. Tomatoes, capsicums (sweet or hot peppers), and vegetable marrows (zucchini) may be prepared in this way. Cabbages and similar vegetables can also be stuffed or wrapped around a filling. They are usually blanched first, in order to make their leaves more pliable. Then, the interior may be replaced by stuffing, or small amounts of stuffing may be inserted between the individual leaves.
The stuffing mixture may be cooked separately and served as a side dish, in which case it may still be called 'stuffing', or in some regions, such as the Southern US, 'dressing'.
The UK's leading brand of stuffing mix is Paxo. Over 30% of the UK Households use Paxo at least once a year. It was invented in 1901 by John Crampton, a butcher from Eccles in Manchester, who wanted to make Sunday lunches more exciting. It's now available in seven flavours.
It is occasionally claimed that the ancient Roman, as well as medieval, cooks stuffed animals with other animals. An anonymous Andalusian cookbook from the 13th century includes a recipe for a ram stuffed with small birds (recipe). A similar recipe for a camel stuffed with sheep stuffed with bustards stuffed with carp stuffed with eggs is mentioned in T.C. Boyle's book Water Music.
British celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has championed the ten-bird roast, calling it "one of the most spectacular and delicious roasts you can lay before your loved ones at Yuletide". A large turkey is stuffed with a goose, duck, mallard, guinea fowl, chicken, pheasant, partridge, pigeon and woodcock. The roast feeds around 30 people and as well as the ten birds, also includes stuffing made from two pounds of sausage meat and half a pound of streaky bacon along with sage, port and red wine.