apricot and fig stuffing
Updated: Mon, 9 November, 2020
'Hold the turkey - I'll just have stuffing'. Are you that kind of person? If so, this is a treat for you: pork and apricot, fig and raisin stuffing, or pork with a dried fruit selection of your choice.
The stuffing of Christmas
If I could have my dream Christmas dinner, there would be no turkey. No goose, though I love goose, no duck or even beef. No - I would just make five or six kinds of stuffing.
All vegetarian or all meat; flavoured with sage and onion or with oriental spices; pork stuffing, chestnut stuffing, mushroom stuffing - who cares about the roast?
Fruit and meat - ideal pairing
This recipe is a lovely alternative to chestnut stuffing if you fancy something a little different. I like to cal this medieval style flavour: pork with spices and fruit which is a combination going back in history.
When not many vegetables were considered fit to serve at banquets and feasts, it was fruit - and dried fruit in winter - that broke through the meats and starches. It was the other way round too: lest we forget mince pies originally had meat in the filling.
I like pairing meat with fruit, dried fruit especially, and this stuffing will complement poultry extremely well. If you set out on a challenge of de-boned bird roast this Christmas, it’s a wonderful filling to spread inside the meat, roll and tie it up; then roast and serve for the ‘wow’ factor.
Bake the stuffing separately
But I like best stuffing baked separately in a little tin, quietly sat in the corner of the oven or in a warm place, waiting for the big boy to be ready. You can serve it on a board together with all the other trimmings and it tastes great with sweet cranberry sauce or redcurrant jelly.
There’s never any point in stuffing a whole bird roasting on the bone: all you achieve is skewered cooking times and the hassle of scooping the stuffing out of nook, crannies, necks and cavities.
The amounts below are modest and make a small loaf to serve about four people. Double the amounts if you have more diners - or if you find how gorgeous it tastes.
apricot and fig stuffingServings: 4Time: about an hour and a half
- 30g dried figs
- 30g dried apricots
- 20g pitted dates
- 20g raisins or sultanas
- 20g prunes
- 50ml port or sherry
- 400g pork mince
- 50g chicken, turkey or calves’ liver, chopped very finely or minced with the pork
- ½ red onion, chopped finely
- 30g butter
- a small bunch of coriander, chopped
- 1 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground blade mace
- salt and pepper
1. Heat up the port or sherry until almost boiling and pour over the dried fruit. Leave it to soak for at least half an hour. Drain and chop the dates, the figs, apricots and prunes quite finely, or whiz them briefly in a blender.
2. In a small skillet sweat the red onions with the butter until soft. Now mix thoroughly all the ingredients for the stuffing in a bowl, using your hands if necessary. Season generously with salt and pepper.
3. If you don’t trust your seasoning eye, scoop a small portion of the stuffing, fry it in a small skillet and check for taste.
4. When it’s to your taste, transfer the stuffing into an ovenproof dish (this amount will fit into a mini loaf tin or a 0.6l gratin dish) pressing down a layer at a time with a spoon dipped in cold water. Pack it in well and brush more water on top.
5. Bake in a moderate oven - about 200C/400F for about 40 – 50 minutes until browned and crispy on top. It can be cooked before the turkey/goose/duck goes in and kept warm, or returned to the oven for 15 minutes before serving.