Well, it’s nearly that time again, and with the weekend of indulgence just ahead and approaching rapidly, my little contribution to the festive season is for something that very often gets neglected next to the flashy stars of the Christmas meal – stuffing.

Although, as you will see by the end of this post, it would be more accurate to say – Savoury-cook-separately-ness!

Hmm, might need to work on that as a name…


If I could get just one of you this year to refrain from buying a cardboard packet and to try this instead, then I’ll be happy-clappy.

Traditional stuffing is so simple – basic, almost (breadcrumbs, onions, herbs, stock)- yet it can really add to and enhance a main meal more than ingredients costing ten times as much.

When it comes to the traditional roast meal, though – I have a problem with where it goes and how it usually gets served up.

I understand that, packed inside the poultry of your choice, it’s supposed to impart flavour, but what invariably gets dished up is a big glop of solid stodge to eat alongside some dried up old bird (and I’m not just referring to myself here).

In fact, the more I think about it, the more illogical it seems:

  • We calculate the cooking time for a lump of meat based on its weight, and filling it with stuffing obviously adds to that weight.
  • If you cook a bird according to its ’empty’ weight, then the stuffing remains a thick lump of glop.
  • If you calculate cooking time based on the ‘stuffed’ weight, by the time the stuffing is cooked through, the meat is dried out.

So I say: stuff stuffing the stuffing, cook it separately! That way both the meat and the stuffing can get cooked to perfection and everything is right in the world.

You can bake it in a big slab, or roll it into balls and let it cook around the outside of the meat. Personally, I like to cook it in a bun/ muffin tin, in individual portions (see photo): the outside gets crispy and crunchy, and the inside remains moist and juicy. Traditonally, stuffing contains suet – but I prefer to replace it with butter for two reasons: it means vegetarians can enjoy it as well (make sure you use vegetable stock), and it still tastes great when cold (sammich, anyone?). Cold, congealed suet is not a good taste in anything! So today’s handy hint is: Avoid suet if you’d like to continue to enjoy your stuffing cold.

Now I know you don’t much care for savoury stuff – no fibbing now, server stats lieth not! – And I do have some deliciously sweet recipes coming soon – but try this yourself – go on, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Happy Christmas!

Traditional Stuffing

Makes 12

2 onions
50g butter
225g breadcrumbs (4-5 slices)[1]
1 heaped tsp each of dried parsley, sage, thyme, oregano
1/2-1 tsp dried rosemary
salt & pepper
200ml stock
1 egg

  • Grease your muffin tin well.
  • Chop the onions and cook gently in the butter until softened and translucent.
  • Put all the other ingredients into a bowl.
  • Mix in the softened onions and any butter left in the pan.
  • The mixture should be moist enough to hold its shape when pressed together.
  • Spoon the mixture into the tin and press down gently. I think the crunchy bits on top are the best bits, so I use a fork to just rough up the surface.
  • Bake at 200°C, 180°C Fan for 45 minutes.

Cost: £0.80 (December 2011)

[1] Stale/dry breadcrumbs are fine – use a little extra stock if you think the mix is too dry.

9 Comments on “Stuffing”

  1. jobakes says:

    Ooo thanks Mary-Anne, great to have a basic blueprint for stuffing! I never really know how to go about making a basic stuffing, having never really read a recipe for it (yet – I’m a Mary-Anne in training and building my cook book collection by the day!). I do one with lemon est, juice and chopped pistachios and apricots plus some fresh parsley to go with a roast chooky. However, I concede, that might be too many flavours for chrimbo day! Now I know how to do it properly! Thank you x

  2. Helen says:

    Ooh, I’ll have to try this at some point! Could the mixture be frozen, and if so would it be better to do it before or after cooking?
    Thanks! Helen 🙂

  3. Nom nom nom. I LOVE Stuffing, and have a recipe for a lovely rice and mushroom one, but this is the one for me this Christmas! And probably throughout the year too as we always have bits of bread around, eager to be breadcrumbed or, more often, turned into croutons for soup.

  4. I’m going to try this in Monkfish MAB. I’ve never really done the whole stuffing thing but I like the IDEA of it. We’ll see….

  5. ActonBelle says:

    Oh lovely, lovely. I’ve always been a fan of stand alone stuffing and have always been rather disappointed when you get served up cardboard box gloop, somewhere else. Yuk!

    The stuffing my mum used to made had chestnuts in. Could I add some in to this recipe or would it be too dry? Hmmm., I may have to experiment and tinker about in the kitchen today… what a shame, not!

  6. mairead says:

    Only just got a chance to have a look at this and it sounds delicious! I like Urvashi’s suggestion of having it wiht monkfish. I bet it would also be fab with lamb too! I always cook stuffing separately, usually in a big bakingdish, but I’m going to cook it in a muffin pan in future. Wonderful idea!

  7. Good reading your post

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