Stephen King, executive chef at Uisge in Murthly, shares his special make-ahead recipe for stuffing
With Christmas fast approaching, we’re thinking about Christmas dinner – along with hoping we can all spend it with our families. Whatever happens it’s still going to be a highlight of the festive period.
Obviously turkey is the star of the show for most of us, but personally I look forward to pork in its various forms over the festivities. From a delicious honey baked gammon for Christmas Eve to stuffing and pigs in blankets on Christmas Day, I think pork is the unsung hero of festive fare.
There are so many ways to do a honey-baked gammon but for me, at Christmas, there is no better way than to boil it and then stud it with plenty of cloves, before covering it generously in soft brown sugar and honey – keep basting throughout cooking.
Not only does it give you a fantastic meal but makes the house smell as if Christmas is in the air!
For the big day itself, pigs in blankets are a huge favourite with most and something that can be prepared in advance. You can get the kids involved too – simply stretch the streaky bacon with the back of a knife and the children can wrap the chipolatas.
I would definitely recommend getting your chipolatas from your local butcher as they will be more flavoursome.
When it comes to stuffing – one of my favourite parts of the meal – getting sausage meat from your local butcher is the way forward as it will generally be leaner and fresher.
There are so many different recipes for stuffing and so many different ways of cooking it so it’s really is up to you which flavours to add and adapt recipes to your liking.
This is also something that can be done in advance (up to two days before) which takes pressure and prep time off the designated chef of the day.
Here’s my own recipe for stuffing, to serve 10-12: 1kg pork sausage meat; 400g cooked chestnuts; 1 large carrot; 1 large courgette; 2 sweet red apples; 3 shallots, finely diced; 200g cranberries (fresh or dried); 200g breadcrumbs (fresh or panko); 200ml chicken stock.
Place the sausage meat, cranberries and breadcrumbs in a bowl with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Keep the chicken stock aside.
In to a separate bowl grate the chestnuts, carrot, courgette and apples with the diced shallot.
Lightly sweat this all off in a heavy based saucepan or frying pan taking care not to colour the veg, we just want to soften it. This should only take 4-5 mins over a medium heat.
Add this to the pork mixture and mix everything through with your hands to ensure it is all evenly distributed. If the mix is really dry add a little of the chicken stock at a time, mixing it until it is nice and moist but not sticky, you may not need it all.
Once you are happy with the mixture line a loaf tin or small casserole dish with greaseproof paper and put the mixture in.
This can now be kept in the fridge until you need it then baked at 190C/Fan 170C/375F/Gas Mark 5 for 40-45 mins. Spoon or slice the stuffing to serve.