Top Tips For The Perfect Stuffing

There’s no doubt about it. Whilst the festive period is traditionally perceived as a relaxing family occasion with crisp blankets of snow, roaring fires and mulled wine, it is more often than not, a time where the average adult is whirring about in a mild panic.

Aside from buying all those presents, hoping the tree fits through the door, and making sure Grandma gets a comfy seat at the table, there’s the immense and sometimes daunting task of preparing the Christmas dinner.

The ability to achieve a succulent turkey, and produce all manner of side dishes, gravies and accompaniments is enough to bring some of us out in a cold sweat. Luckily for you, we have an industry expert on hand, and with his tips and expertise you might be on the way to creating a Christmas dinner comparable to Jamie Oliver’s.

Managing Director of Buckie-based Speyside Specialities, David Lawson, knows all there is to know about oatmeal stuffing, skirlie and other traditional Scottish produce. With his family having been in the industry since 1898, and his products sold in supermarket chains nationwide, he is just the man to help you create a stuffing that family and friends will be talking about for years to come.

He comments, “Stuffing is definitely one of the most important elements of the Christmas dinner. Over the years there have been many variations of stuffing developed around the world, so it is difficult knowing which to choose. I would recommend a fresh, oatmeal-based stuffing to a dry pack – this is a healthier option to rusk or bread-based options. I’d also like to demonstrate that by adding some simple ingredients to traditional, fresh oatmeal stuffing, you could achieve a wide variety of complimentary flavours. This will turn a good turkey into a great turkey, and will have your guests sneaking back for more!

Sage, Celery and Onion:

“This is without doubt the undisputed classic of the stuffing world and can be easily prepared. I recommend lightly sautéing a couple of sticks of celery and an additional half of onion (if you like a slightly stronger oniony taste) in a pan with a little butter. Once softened, add to the oatmeal-stuffing mix along with a dessertspoon of dried sage, and combine well. Fresh sage can also be used, but you may need a little more as dried herbs are much more concentrated in flavour. You’re then ready to transfer into the bird cavity.”

Spiced Cranberry with Roast Chestnuts and Pancetta:

“Cranberries are classically associated with turkey at Christmas, but what better way to give them a twist by incorporating them into your stuffing?

“In a little melted butter, add a sprig of rosemary, a ¼ to ½ diced onion, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and ½ teaspoon nutmeg to the pan. Once the onion is softened, add a handful of coarsely chopped roast chestnuts, short strips of crisply fried pancetta and a handful of dried cranberries. You are then ready to transfer the ingredients to your oatmeal stuffing and mix well. Once the cavity is stuffed and begins to cook, the dried cranberries will soak up the juices, turning plump, sweet and delicious.  

Apple and Walnut:

“This is a fantastic stuffing which gives you a little kick of sweet apple and crunch of walnut. It’s fabulous with pork, but also works really well with turkey. To prepare, simply add two diced shallots and one chopped and cored dessert apple to a pan with a little butter to soften. Next, add a tablespoon of dried thyme and the same of coarsely chopped walnuts. Combine this mixture with your oatmeal stuffing and combine well before roasting.”

Spiced Orange and Raisin:

“This one has a really wintery flavour to it and acts as the perfect accompaniment to turkey or duck. Add a handful of dried raisins to a good glug of orange liqueur. Bring this to the boil and leave to simmer until the fruit has soaked up almost all of the liquid. Set aside. Next soften a stick of celery and half a finely chopped onion with a little butter. Add the zest and juice of a large orange, half a cinnamon stick, oatmeal stuffing, and previously prepared raisins. Mix well and transfer to the turkey or duck cavity for roasting.

The ‘No Mess’ Stuffing:

“Some people can be a bit squeamish when it comes to stuffing the turkey or simply don’t want to get their hands dirty. It is for those people that I recommend the ‘no mess stuffing’. Simply, I would advise on popping a couple of white puddings into the cavity before roasting. You can either leave them in their coating, or peel them before roasting. This way your hands stay clean, the bird picks up the delicious flavours, and you end up with a beautiful accompaniment to your meat.”

Final Top Tip:

David also recommends that if you have any stuffing which won’t quite fit in the turkey, simply press the leftovers into a lightly oiled baking tray and cook in the oven, alongside the turkey, for the last 20mins roasting time.

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