Things which are time consuming relating to the Christmas Lunch are far better done early and the advantage of a good sized freezer makes preparing for Lunch extremely simple indeed.
I like to serve two stuffings. One meat, and cooked separately from the bird, and one to stuff in the neck cavity, to take on the flavours of all those delicious juices. Over the years I have experimented with lots of different recipes but now use just two. Pork, Cranberry and Orange, and Pear with Chestnut and Honey. Both can be frozen and the second, also made with gluten-free bread if there are any allergies to be catered for. A few minutes spent prepping now, will make for an effortless Christmas Lunch. After all – no one really wants to be in the kitchen, too much, over the festive period.
Pork, Pancetta, Cranberry and Orange Stuffing
I like to cook this in a loaf tin, it turns out very well but also looks good brought straight to the table. You can also replace the sausage meat with chicken, or duck sausage meat and leave the pancetta out, for those who don’t eat pork.
500g good sausage meat
100 gram slice of pancetta, finely diced
The juice and zest of 1 large orange
1 clementine, sliced into disks with the skin still on
100g cranberries, roughly chopped
Fry the diced pancetta until golden brown and set aside to cool thoroughly
Mix the sausage meat, orange, cooled pancetta, port and cranberries – smoosh (love that word) it all together and fry a little to test seasoning, season to taste. Press the mixture into a loaf tin, cover with foil and pop in the freezer.
Remove on Christmas Eve and allow to defrost overnight in the refrigerator. Decorate with a few slices of clementine and a few whole cranberries, recover with foil and bake for approximately 40 minutes at 175 degrees c, testing with a skewer to make sure it’s cooked thoroughly. Remove the foil for the last ten minutes of cooking and serve.
Pear, Chestnut, Sage and Honey Stuffing
This should stuff a turkey large enough to feed at least 6-8 with leftovers
700g slightly stale bread (sourdough also works very well), all the crusts removed, then diced into 1 cm cubes
1 large tin of pears in juice, drained and the pear cut into 1 cm dice ( I have also used fresh pears, but as these are already cooked there are no worries about the pears discolouring)
100g cooked chestnuts, peeled and roughly chopped
1 heaped tablespoon runny honey
1 heaped tablespoon finely shredded sage
Seasoning to taste
Melt the honey until liquid and add the chopped sage, allow it to infuse for a minute.
Stir the chopped pear, bread and chestnuts together and pour over the sage honey, making sure all the ingredients are well coated, add a good sprinkle of salt and black pepper.
Place into a freezer bag, or Tupperware and freeze until Christmas Eve.
Remove and defrost thoroughly before stuffing into the neck cavity of the bird. This is quite a chunky, almost medieval style, stuffing and compliments the meat stuffing very well. Do make sure that you secure the neck skin well to stop the stuffing escaping during cooking – my great grandmother used to actually sew the neck up using a needle and string (although they more often had a chicken or capon for Christmas Lunch)