I'm a big fan of cooking and making your own food from raw ingredients rather than using packets. As it's a few days before Christmas I thought I would share with you my recipe for making some awesome homemade stuffing. Although I'm not a big lover of stuffing, my boyfriend is, so I've been making this with a lot of our roast dinners recently. I'm probably even going to make it on Christmas day for his family (eep!).
It's really easy and much more satisfying that using a packet mix. Plus, you can vary the recipe to meet your own tastes.
Betty's Homemade Stuffing
Breadcrumbs make up the bulk of your stuffing. You can buy breadcrumbs, but I prefer to make my own. Take two slices of stale bread (white/brown/granary, whatever your preference) and blitz them in a food processor. If you haven't thought ahead to let two slices of bread go stale, as I often do, then you can toast them, and/or whack them in the oven for a bit. Just make sure the bread is really dry or you'll find it hard to make crumbs (although some larger lumps aren't the end of the world!).
|Toasted bread ready to go in the oven to dry|
2. Onions and Mince
I used half an onion, but you can use more or less depending on how much you like it. It needs to be diced, again the exact texture is down to you, you can really mince it up finely or leave quite large chunks. Heat up a pan with around a tablespoon of oil, then add the onions and fry gently, until they begin to look translucent.
Then add the mince. I've never really measured how much mince I put in, but I would guess about 1 cup or a large handful. I always use really cheap lamb mince for stuffing, because it's cheap and also it tends to have a higher fat content, which is good for this recipe. The mince is also quite flexible, it can be lamb, beef, pork or even veggie if you're not a meat eater (although I would add some more oil/fat if using veggie mince). Alternatively, you could use sausage meat, chopped up sausages or bacon. It's purpose is really to add fat and flavour.
When the mince is cooked, take the pan off the heat while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
3. Herbs and Spices
Again, this stage is really open to changes to suit your own taste. Recently, my stuffing of choice has used rosemary, mixed herbs and hazelnuts; pretty much because that's what I've had around. I finely chop the rosemary and nuts (usually in a food mixer as doing it by hand is quite tedious, but you can buy chopped nuts if you need), then mix them in with the breadcrumbs, along with salt and pepper to taste.
There are loads of variations you can do with the herbs though. Sage and Onion is obviously a classic stuffing combination. You could try a Moroccan twist with some paprika and dried apricots and raisins. Go nutty with loads of nuts in the mix. Try adding garlic and lemon, which would go particularly well with chicken. If you fancied a meatier stuffing, use a larger amount of pork mince alongside chunks or apple or apple sauce, for another taste classic. If you're feeling a bit more experimental, how about adding mint for a stuffing to go with lamb? Basically, just get in there and try out flavours that you like and experiment a bit!
Once you've added your spices to the breadcrumbs, pour the dry ingredients into the pan and mix thoroughly (not on the heat). If the mix seems a little dry then add a bit more oil.
Put the mixture into an oven proof dish and press down. You can pour some of the juices from the meat you're cooking over the stuffing as well, for added moisture and taste. Cover the dish with foil and bake at 190 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes, then a further 10 minutes with the foil removed (this is in my oven which is pretty poor, if yours if quite powerful then reduce the time and keep and eye on it).
|Ok, so my bread wasn't quite dry enough and there are some pretty big chunks in there. It's just added texture!|
5. Serve and Enjoy!!
I hope you are all looking forward to many happy celebrations and a relaxing day tomorrow.
Happy Holiday Wishes,