In or Out? Stuffing vs. Dressing
For those who believe the conventional wisdom, stuffing is the stuff that is cooked inside the bird while dressing is baked on the outside. But Chow notes that both are actually the same thing, according to the National Turkey Federation, which states, “Both terms are used interchangeably.” Since this side dish is most often discussed at Thanksgiving, we think the turkey experts at the NTF may know best. If you do choose to stuff your turkey remember that it must reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees!
Sweet Debate: Yams vs. Sweet Potatoes
Don’t lose your potatoes over this, but these two spuds are not related botanically. Now that you’ve digested that bombshell, here are a few more potato particulars:
Sweet potatoes come in several varieties, classified as either firm or soft. Firm varieties remain firm after they’re cooked, while the soft varieties get moist and soft. The Library of Congress says these soft types are often labeled “yams,” but adds that true yams are native to Africa and it is unlikely you’ll find them at your local grocery store. Yams are starchier and drier than sweet potatoes, though they can be used interchangeably in recipes.
Turkey Bath: Brined vs. Marinated
Every year on Thanksgiving you hear about people brining a turkey, but not marinating it. Why is that? The difference has to do with acidic marinades versus salty brines. Acid, a strong component of marinades, tenderizes only the surface of meats, thus they are not the best way to add flavor to your large turkey. Brining is a longer, deeper process. The salty nature of the brine “adds moisture to the meat through osmosis.” The salt draws the water inside the meat out while the brine flows into the meat, adding extra water and juiciness.
Want to do both? Try this Citrus Marinated Turkey recipe from Iron Chef Jose Garces, in which he first brines and then marinates the meat.