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chestnut and mushroom stuffing

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Chestnut stuffing for turkey

'Stuffing' – such a misnomer. You should NOT stuff the turkey. It will cook better and quicker all alone, with perhaps just an onion or an apple in the cavity for company. Stuffed animals belong at taxidermist's.

Unless they are de-boned and rolled. That is an incredibly good dish, a stuffed de-boned chicken or fowl or indeed a three bird roast (the last above my pay grade). I’ve deboned poultry though and it’s surprisingly doable, easier than filleting fish. Then you spread the stuffing on the flat expanse of meat, roll and tie it up – and hey presto! goes in the oven. Slices nicely too and looks good: layers of meat intermingled with layers of stuffing.

But I’m cooking my turkey au naturel this year and the stuffing separately - it can go in a little earlier which is a bonus with one-not-terribly-brilliant oven. Those little Bacofoil throwaway tin foil containers are awfully handy and compact in size, on a day when oven space is at a premium.

Secondly – don’t buy sausagemeat. The best you can do is buy a little pork belly, nice and fatty, and a little pork shoulder, and mince it yourself in a food processor or an old fashioned meat mincer – I do that and always have to resist a weird self-destructive urge to stick my finger in the feed.

The other option is to ask your butcher to grind your chosen pork. Ready-made mince, especially good quality will not be fatty enough and make for dry, meatloaf-like stuffing.

chestnut and mushroom stuffing

Servings: 6Time: about 2 hours

INGREDIENTS

  • 400g minced pork, half and half shoulder and belly
  • 20g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 100g chestnuts, cooked and peeled
  • 3 rashers streaky bacon
  • ½ onion, chopped very finely
  • 20g butter
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp ground mace
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • salt and black pepper


METHOD

1.First soak the mushrooms in boiling water and leave to cool completely. Drain and chop finely.  Boil the chestnuts and peel them while still hot – impossible to do when they get too cold. Mash them up roughly in a bowl with a fork.

2.Dice the bacon as small as you can and cook it in a skillet with the butter and the onion, until slightly translucent and not crispy.

3.Put all the ingredients together in a bowl and mix very well, using your hands if you like. Season with salt and pepper.

Bacon, mace and stuffing mix

4.Now the best bit – you need to check the stuffing for seasoning so scoop a little ball of it, shape a tiny patty and fry in a little skillet. Taste and add more seasoning as necessary.

5.When it’s seasoned to your taste, transfer it into an ovenproof dish (or one of those little throwaway tin foil containers) pressing down a quarter at a time with a spoon dipped in cold water. Pack it in well and brush more water on top.

Baking chestnut stuffing

6.Bake in a moderate oven (it can be cooked before the turkey goes in and kept warm, or returned to the oven for 15 minutes before serving) for about 40 – 50 minutes until browned and crispy on top.

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