Here is my first, and quite probably my last, entry for “Too Many Chefs”. The reason? I only cook one proper meal a year, and that is Christmas dinner (and even then I have help from Meg). The rest of the year, I am perfectly content to adopt the persona of “The Critic”.
But yesterday was, of course, December 25th – the day when we excuse all manner of gastronomic excess because, well…after all…it is Christmas. And dinner on this day in the Cutts household is truly excessive: a 17lb turkey with chestnut stuffing, a baked ham, sausages, bacon rolls, roast potatoes (NOT mashed – this is not Thanksgiving), peas, carrots, sweetcorn: all accompanied by delicious gravy…and all on the same plate!
Addressing such a distinguished and knowledgeable audience as the readers of this food blog, I won’t bore you with the simple matters of cooking the sausages and bacon (grilled, not fried, if you are interested). Also, my simple art of boiling the veggies is unlikely to interest you greatly (except I must say that say that a handful of sugar in the water adds flavour). Nor will I go into detail about the roasting of the turkey…especially as this year, the gargantuan formerly-feathered beast needed to be put back into thee oven for an extra hour over the recommended cooking time. Instead, I will focus on the stuffing.
Now, as regular readers will realise, my beloved wife and I have somewhat different ideas about what makes turkey stuffing. She describes the rich chestnut stuffing I make for the Christmas bird as having the “density of plutonium”, while her dalliance with oysters and celery (I hate celery!) for the Thanksgiving turkey, just makes me thankful that I only have to endure that stuffing once a year.
Trans-Atlantic differences aside, even Meg agreed that yesterday’s stuffing was a triumph. Hence, although completely improvised, here is how I did it…and it was very, very good!!
The Right Way To Make Stuffing
12 oz./340 grams of fine bread crumbs (we made ours from dried out baguettes in the food processor)
600 grams cooked chestnuts
4 small onions
1 tsp sage
2-3 tsp poultry seasoning
400 grams sausage meat
1 bottle dry sherry
Puree the chestnuts in around 3/4 of the bottle of dry sherry. Don’t overdo the pureeing (is that really a word?) – a few “chunks” are really good for the flavour and texture. I used vacuum packs of chestnuts rather than the real thing this year, as the checkout assistant in the supermarket informed me that I should have weighed the bag of chestnuts before I arrived at the cash till. Rather than going back to the fruit/vegetable counter and having to queue again, I just set them aside. But the vacuum-packed chestnuts were just as good.
Add the breadcrumbs, onions and herbs. Gently fry the sausage meat, cutting it into small pieces as you do so. Mix it all together and ram hard into the turkey. After bird cooked, spoon all out, and eat! Simple, (except that this year, in view of the turkey’s reluctance to allow itself to be cooked on schedule, we zapped the stuffing in the microwave for around 15 minutes before gorging ourselves).
Well, there it is. Back to being the Critic for the next 364 days. What’s for dinner, Meg?
- The Critic