Stuffing is one of those brilliant dishes that transforms your average roast dinner into something really special.
It is a mixture of textures, flavors and colors. And although many consider stuffing as a Thanksgiving or Christmas dish, it can be prepared during any time of the year.
The three basic ingredients: Use these key flavors to form the base of your stuffing, and then play around to create your own special version.
- Onion: Diced onion is the starting point for many stuffings. You can experiment by using red or white onions, shallots, or even adding leek and spring onions.
- Bread: The main ‘bulker’ in stuffing, your choice of bread can make a big difference to the dish. Try wholemeal, sourdough, brown, white, seeded or rye bread for something more unusual.
- Herbs: It is up to you to decide which herbs suit your taste buds. For a hardier, earthy flavor, opt for rosemary, thyme, bay and sage. But for something lighter, use parsley or marjoram.
The meat: If you are using meat in your stuffing, then make sure you opt for something fatty. Fatty cuts in meat stay juicy when cooked and keep the stuffing from drying out. Finely chop or mince the meat before using it.
Non-meat stuffing: Vegetable stuffing’s are just as delicious as the meat ones. Try adding dried fruit such as apricots or cranberries for a bit of added bite, or tumble in some chestnuts with a few spices such as nutmeg or even chilli flakes. Mix up your flavors with added herbs, and give it extra texture with chunks of bread instead of breadcrumbs.
Preparing stuffing separately:
- Loaf tin: Stuffing loaf is easy to carve and also retains a great amount of its moisture as it cooks.
- Shallow round dish: If you want your guests to help themselves, then prepare your stuffing in an ovenproof dish that can be taken straight to the table.
- Muffin tray: A fun way to prepare stuffing for a friends gettogether is to bake in a muffin tray. Decorate each with a bay leaf and cranberries to give the perfect look.
- Stuffing balls: Make little festive balls of stuffing to pile up in an impressive pyramid in the middle of your table.
- Sausages: Another fun way of preparing stuffing is shaping it into a long sausage. This helps retain the juices, thus giving out a tasty end result.
Gluten-free stuffing recipe:
Here is a simple recipe to a delicious gluten-free stuffing.
450 grams gluten-free bread
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 diced onions
3 stalks celery, diced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
¾ teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper to taste
2 cups gluten-free chicken broth
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 165 degrees Celsius. Grease a 3-quart baking dish.
Cut bread into cubes about 3/4-inch square and spread onto the baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until crisp (12 to 17 minutes).
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir onions and celery in the hot oil until soft (8 to 10 minutes). Stir in sage, thyme, salt, and black pepper into the vegetables. Then mix toasted bread crumbs, chicken broth, and eggs. Spoon the dressing into the prepared baking dish and cover.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, uncover, and bake until top of dressing is crisp and lightly browned (10 minutes). Serve immediately.
Storing, freezing and defrosting stuffing: If you want to get ahead on your stuffing, make it in advance then bag it up and freeze it. Defrost the stuffing fully before using. If you are making stuffing balls, you can roll them and then freeze on spaced tray before bagging up. Then you can defrost and bake, making sure they are piping hot inside before serving.