So, we’re onto our tenth tip from –
12 Tips for a gorgeous, no fuss, foodie Christmas
Tip #1 was all about the cake.
Tip #2 was about making a few meals to stash in the freezer for over Christmas
Tip #3 was the joy of handmade food gifts
Tip #4 was the wonders of freezing uncooked mince pies so that they are ready at the drop of a hat
Tip #5 was a prepare-ahead alternative dessert if Christmas pudding just isn’t your thing
Tip #6 was flying the flag for freeze-ahead roast potatoes
Tip #7 was prepare ahead vegetable side dishes
Tip #8 was about making some good choices when you stock up your fridge and cupboards for Christmas
Tip #9 was the game changer that is make-ahead gravy and now here’s the next one –
Tip #10 – You can do all the time-consuming prep beforehand and pop your stuffing in the freezer so that you are ready to go on Christmas Day.
Could you imagine any self-respecting turkey sarnie being able to hold its head up high without a generous spread of delicious stuffing as one of its tasty layers? Not in my world.
But it’s not just any stuffing I crave, it’s our family ‘Celery, Apricot & Walnut Stuffing’ that is the only one for me. This is the stuffing of family traditions and we all adore it. Until I went away to college (just slightly more than a few years ago), I had no idea that there was any other way to make stuffing apart from scratch and with fresh ingredients. I then had my eyes opened to Paxo Sage & Onion – but chose to close them again very quickly.
This is a delicious stuffing, the recipe for which originated from the Cordon Bleu Cookery Course – a publication in 72 parts from 1968. They were housed in a nifty blue box binder or three and my parents would dip into them for all sorts of dishes. It’s definitely worth checking the books out – even if it’s just to admire the classic 60s photography.
Anyway, this recipe has stood the test of time for sure and I don’t think there has been too much tweaking over the intervening 40 or so years.
I will do all the time-consuming prep (chopping and sweating – that’s the vegetables, not me) well in advance and then freeze the stuffing ready to defrost for the final cooking on the big day. So this is yet another way to free yourself up to spend more of your day enjoying the festivities and less time suffering a frenzied festive sauna. At this rate you’re going to be a Christmas Day Lady/Man of Leisure. That’ll be a yes to another Buck’s Fizz…..
Sometimes, I cook the stuffing inside the turkey, but when we go for ‘Christmas Dinner in a Box’ or if I would just rather not stuff the bird, I cook it in a separate dish in the oven. I’ll use a little chicken stock to mimic the juices from the bird and I’ll be ready with the tin foil if I think it’s browning too quickly.
I can practically taste that turkey sarnie … it’s a cracker. Did you see what I did there?!
- 50g goose fat or butter
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1 small head of celery, finely chopped
- 50g dried apricots, finely chopped
- 100g walnuts, chopped
- 80g fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- salt and pepper
- If you are cooking the stuffing in a separate dish in the oven -
- 200-300ml chicken stock - adjust the quantity depending on how you like your stuffing
- Melt the goose fat or butter in a pan and add the onions. Cover and cook until soft, but not browned.
- Add the celery, apricots and walnuts and cook for about 4 minutes on a high heat, stirring continuously.
- Allow the mixture to cool and add the breadcrumbs and parsley. Season to taste.
- You can freeze the stuffing at this stage. Be sure to defrost it thoroughly before use.
- To cook the stuffing in the oven - Preheat the oven to 180C, 350F (gas mark 4). Place it in a well greased baking dish and drizzle with some or all of the chicken stock - you can always start with a little and add more if the stuffing seems to be too dry.
- Bake in the oven for 30 mins or until cooked through and a little crusty on the top. Keep an eye on it to make sure that the top doesn't brown too much.
- Alternatively use the stuffing to stuff your bird.