So which parts of the Christmas dinner can you not live without? In our family, the list looks like this -
- roast potatoes
- cranberry sauce
- turkey sandwiches - not strictly part of Christmas dinner, I know, but this is my favourite part, so it's staying. And these turkey sandwiches MUST be on white bread and they MUST be smothered in cranberry sauce and, of course, stuffing.
So, in other words, stuffing gets two votes. That must mean it's clearly one of the cornerstones of our family Christmas dinner. But it's not just any old stuffing, this is our family recipe for Celery, Apricot and Walnut Stuffing that we've been making for decades.
Making stuffing is not hard, but it does tend to involve a fair amount of time-consuming prep (much chopping and sweating of vegetables) and it's not what I want to be doing any time close to Christmas dinner. Particularly anything that involves sweating.
But the good news is that you can do all of this prep well in advance and then freeze it ready to defrost for the final cooking on the big day.
So what is special about this Celery, Apricot and Walnut stuffing?
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 sandwich ... it's a cracker. Did you see what I did there?!Print