I was going to respond to @catholiver’s posts, but they’ve apparently been hidden.
At any rate, I think the distinction btw “stuffing” and “dressing” is a southern thing. My partner’s family (culturally southern) uses the term “dressing” b/c “stuffing” is used only when the material had(edit: ingredients have) actually been stuffed inside of a bird. I think they do prefer cornbread, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them used store-bought white bread most of the time, since they aren’t purists (and use Bisquick for chicken and dumplings… horror).
They also use flour in the custard for their banana pudding, which I think results in a most curious (IMHO) texture and color. But it got rave reviews from some from GA who tried it.
Thanks for speaking up. Yes! I’ve been served stuffing…to be polite I’ll put maybe a half a cup on my plate. But essentially it’s steamed. But dressing goes in a pan and get just a teensy bit crusty on top. No comparison. Sorry somebodies didn’t under that.
My mom always made a little bit inside the bird, and then made the rest in a big giant baking dish. I only bake it in a dish. But We always called it stuffing whether it was Stuffed in the bird or not.
To this day when I hear “dressing” I always think of salad dressing. Throws me off to hear The turkey side dish referred to as just “dressing” as opposed to turkey dressing.
That’s what my family typically did, too. One option I’ve seen a couple times was to stuff the bird then take it out and cook it again for safety and browning. That seemed like a good result but a bit of the tail wagging the dog at that point.
Of course, you could also do what Dave Arnold did in the past which was heat the stuffing for pasteurization, put the hot stuffing in the turkey (helping it cook evenly inside and out) and run duck fat or butter through the cavities formerly occupied by bones until done. But gosh, we did that last year…
Hah, I kid. I would never make the bionic turkey. As I recall, when I first heard Arnold talk about it on the Cooking Issues podcast it was clear that my food making aspirations are bush league compared to some. I don’t think he’s talked about doing it more than two Thanksgivings so while interesting and probably quite tasty it seems like it may not be the turkey to end all turkeys.
A revised edition of The Joy of Cooking offers this explanation: “The terms ‘stuffing’ and ‘dressing’ are used interchangeably despite the occasional argument that anything cooked in the bird is stuffing and anything baked separately must be called dressing.” The authors continue, “Stuffing is actually the original name, and the term ‘dressing’ came from Victorian England when ‘stuffing’ was thought to be a bit unseemly.”
So it’s called dressing because stuffing sounds too racy.
Related fun fact: Refined folk in Victorian England called piano legs “limbs,” because legs sounds too racy.