This is the stuffing I make more than any other: laden with many goodies, it enhances any roast dinner.
Most roasts – and especially Christmas dinner – are not quite complete without a stuffing, whether actually stuffed inside the meat or served on the side.
Forget those indifferent packet mixes and those expensive, dusty so-called “luxury” stuffings that come ready-made: a home-made stuffing is in a league of its own and is really easy to make
And don’t forget the joys of the other side dishes that accompany a roast. A selection of some of my favourites, including perfect roast potatoes and fool-proof Yorkshire Puddings, are at the bottom of this page.
The joys of separate stuffing
Apart from any stuffing that might go into the meat, which adds moisture and flavour to the meat as well as absorbing flavour from the meat, I always have some stuffing cooked separately either baked in a cake tin or oven-proof dish or cooked as stuffing balls.
Good quality sausagemeat is key: you want at least 80% meat content, so I often buy sausages and remove the skins to form the base of my stuffing: use a flavoured sausage if you prefer or go for a plain pork sausage.
While you can add all manner of other ingredients, for me, the following are key:
- apples (or pears)
- dried apricots
- fresh thyme or sage (or both!)
- extra nuts (walnuts are fab, but pistachios are wonderful too!)
I sometimes add breadcrumbs (no more than a couple of tablespoons for about 500g sausagemeat or it becomes stodgy). A tablespoon or so of redcurrant jelly or cranberry sauce also works very well in there.
I never bother with egg as stuffing doesn’t need it: the moisture of the sausagemeat, the apples and the apricots are enough to also help bind the mixture.
Recipe: my ultimate stuffing – serve 6-8 generously
- 500g good quality sausagemeat
- 1 medium apple, cored and chopped into smallish pieces (you can keep the skin on or peel it)
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped fairly finely
- 2-3 tablespoons dried apricots, chopped fairly small
- 2-3 tablespoons cooked chestnuts, chopped fairly small
- 2-3 tablespoons nuts of choice (walnuts, pistachio….)
- leaves from 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 large sage leaves, finely chopped
- salt and pepper to season
(1) Put all the ingredients into a large enough bowl and stir well so they are evenly distributed. You can use this to stuff a bird or as the stuffing for pork.
NB: I often take a spoonful and fry it for a few minutes untill cooked as a taster – I then decide if it needs more seasoning
(2) Take small amounts and roll into balls, placing them on a lightly oiled baking tray. Alternatively, pat into an oiled cake tin or ovenproof dish.
(3) Bake at about 190-200C (fan) until golden brown and cooked through – this takes about 20 minutes.
Other perfect accompaniments to a roast dinner
Yorkshire puddings: the secrets to perfect Yorkshire Puddings every time is here
For the best carrots (honeyed, with parsley and just a hint of truffle!): my ultimate carrots
For a fabulous Brussels sprouts dish: my perfect Brussels sprouts
For the very best roast potatoes every time: perfect roast potatoes
For the most delicous gravy to bring everything together: gravy
For the best pigs in blankets, glazed with honey and thyme and stuffed with apricots and cranberry sauce: pigs in blankets