Saturday, December 29, 2007

Chestnut Bacon and Cranberry Stuffing

100g dried Cranberries
50ml ruby port
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 rashers unsmoked back bacon, cut into strips
50g butter
2 garlic cloves, chopped
450g good quality sausage meat
140g fresh white or brown breadcrumbs
2tbsp chopped fresh parsley
½ tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
140g peeled cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper to season.

Soak the cranberries in the port for an hour. Fry the onion and bacon gently in the butter, until the onion is tender, and the bacon is cooked. Add the garlic and fry for another minute or so.
Remove from heat and cool, then mix with the remaining ingredients, including the cranberries and port, adding enough egg to bind – hands are easiest for this. (To check the seasoning fry a knob of stuffing in a little butter, taste and adjust if necessary.)
Use to stuff the neck end of a turkey, or shape into 1&1/2 inch round balls. To cook the stuffing balls, half an hour before the end of the turkey’s cooking time, put them into the tin around the turkey, or cook them in a separate oiled tin.

I got this from 101 Christmas Dishes and I made it to go with Christmas dinner. I’ve always had a bit of thing about British stuffing. It’s very different from American stuffing, and the stuffing was always my all time favorite part of holiday dinners. I decided that this year I was going to open my mind to the concept of British stuffing. I looked into it a bit, and I picked out this recipe. I think it was the port soaked cranberries that put it over the top.

The thing that I realized is that British stuffing is sort of like a cross between stuffing and meatballs, whereas American stuffing is more like a savory bread pudding type food. Nothing wrong with either of those.

This recipe totally and completely changed my mind about this food. I love it. These stuffing balls were so good it was amazing. The cranberries soaked in port were as good as I had hoped, and the chestnuts added such a wonderful flavor and texture.

I thought it was strange that there is no mention in the recipe of what temperature to cook them at. I was a little worried because I was using a fairly low oven for the ham I was making (170c). I left them in for a slightly longer time because of that. It worked out fine. They were perfect and moist and delicious, and I will never say a bad word about British stuffing again.

By the way, I realize that it may be a bit redundant to make pork stuffing to go with a ham, but I had to try it anyway. I couldn’t do a holiday meal with no stuffing.

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