Christmas dinner is one of the most important cooks of the year. We plan every element that will make it on to the plate and strive for perfection with all of them. In my house, there are 3 things that must be done well or Christmas dinner just wouldn’t be the same – the ham, the roast potatoes and the sausage meat stuffing. I have experimented and changed different aspects of this recipe over the years and I’ve finally landed on one that ticks all the boxes. Good quality sausage meat combined with the classic flavours of sage, onion and garlic – given a little twist with pops of sweetness from the apricots and a crunch from the pine nuts, but best of all, it couldn’t be easier to make.
2lbs good quality sausage meat
2 large onions, finely diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2tbsp fresh sage leaves, chopped
30g pine nuts
100g dried apricots, diced
salt & pepper to season
10-12 rashers of streaky bacon
Step 1 – Pre-heat your BBQ
For the last 3 years, I have cooked my entire Christmas dinner on my BBQ’s, I would encourage any lover of outdoor cooking to give it a try, but if you don’t fancy the idea – this recipe will work in your conventional oven too.
For this cook, I used my 57cm charcoal kettle BBQ set up for indirect cooking at a temperature of 180-190°C (335-375°F) . This essentially means turning your BBQ into an outdoor oven by pushing the coals to either side of the charcoal grate, leaving a gap in the middle. You can then place your food on the cooking grate directly above the area with no coals. Pop the lid on and the temperature inside your BBQ will start to rise – cooking your food.
If you’ve never tried this method of cooking on your BBQ and would like to give it a go, I have a video on my YouTube channel explaining a little bit more about it and how to set up your BBQ.
Step 2 – Prepare the stuffing mixture
In a large bowl, mix the sausage meat, onion, garlic and breadcrumbs together. Then add the apricots, pine nuts , sage and parsley (keep some of each back to garnish the top of the finished stuffing), season with salt and pepper and give everything one final mix to ensure the ingredients are well distributed through the mixture.
Step 3 – Line a loaf tin with streaky bacon
This recipe will give you enough mixture to fill a 23.5cm x 13.5cm x 7cm loaf tin. I prefer to use a loaf tin over a tray as it makes the stuffing much easier to serve as you can slice it. Lay your strips of bacon along the bottom of the loaf tin and up the sides, leaving a small overhang. Don’t worry too much about completely covering the tin, leaving small gaps between the bacon will make it much easier to carve later.
Step 4 – Add the stuffing mixture to the loaf tin
Once your tin is lined with bacon, add your stuffing mixture, firming it down as you go so it will hold together in a loaf shape when cooked. Once filled, scrunch the overhanging ends of the bacon along the edge of the tin so they almost form “crust” along each side of the tin, leaving the top of the stuffing exposed. Scatter the remaining pine nuts on top of the exposed stuffing mixture.
Step – 5 – Cook the stuffing
Place the loaf tin on the BBQ (or in the oven) in the area of indirect heat and close the lid. After 1 hour, start to monitor the internal temperature of the stuffing. When it reaches 72°C (161°F), add the remaining chunks of apricot. Continue to cook the stuffing until it reaches an internal temperature of 75°C (167°F). Remove it from the BBQ, sprinkle with the remaining herbs and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
Step 6 – Serve and enjoy
Once the stuffing has rested, carefully remove it from the tin and cut it into thick slices. I like to use the streaky bacon as a guide. Be careful when removing it from the tin as there will likely be some hot fat that has cooked out of the sausage meat so use a fish slice rather than turning the stuffing out onto a cutting board.
This stuffing re-heats really well. If you are making this ahead of time, I would leave it in the tin to cool completely then store it in the fridge. When re-heating – cover the tin with foil and re-heat slowly in the oven until the internal temperature reaches 75°C (167°F)
As I mentioned at the beginning of this recipe, it has taken me a few years to fine tune this recipe and adding the pine nuts and apricots were the crowning glory. I’d love you to take it and make it your own, adding or taking little bits away each year until you have your own perfect stuffing.
Keen on this recipe? See it in action below.
Merry Christmas guys 🙂
James McKay at Barbechoo